In Cambodia, the Solidarity Center works with Cambodian unions and other partners to protect worker rights.
|Cambodian garment workers at an organizing rally. More than 300 garment unions have formed in Cambodia since 1999.
Decades of war and internal strife have left Cambodia's economy in distress. An intense struggle for worker rights is taking place in an environment where violence lurks around the corner for a new generation of union leaders and activists trying to organize and represent workers in the country's first democratic unions.
In 1997, with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Solidarity Center cooperated with the International Labor Organization to help the Cambodian government draft and pass a new labor law. The Solidarity Center, the AFL-CIO, and American garment union UNITE then worked with Cambodian garment unions to win a landmark 1999 U.S.-Cambodian textile compact that gave Cambodia access to the giant U.S. clothing market, on condition that it would comply with its own labor law and submit to ILO monitoring of factories.
Thanks to this high road approach, Cambodia's fledgling garment industry became a $1.5 billion powerhouse, employing 300,000 workers — 90 percent of them young women — as the main breadwinners for families all over the country. Over the life of the agreement, garment workers formed more than 300 unions. Recognizing Cambodia's worker rights record as the sole factor that distinguishes it from global competitors, Cambodia's unions, government, and garment industry have committed to keeping the ILO monitoring project alive. Hotel and service workers, construction workers, and teachers have followed the lead of their brothers and sisters in the garment industry, forming independent unions and winning recognition from their employers.
Cambodia: Brands Could Help Garment Workers Get Better Nutrition
. January 24, 2013—Among the thousands of Cambodian garment workers who have fainted on the job over the past few years, many suffer from malnutrition, anemia and dehydration. Low wages and a relative monopoly on food canteens surrounding factories leave workers with few options for healthy food. In recent months, however, Cambodia’s garment manufacturers and unions have begun working together to urge clothing and apparel brand makers to fund one free meal for workers each day. The Solidarity Center played a key role in facilitating the agreement between the two groups.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Meets with Cambodian Women Unionists, Defends Worker Rights.
July 16, 2012—During her tour of Southeast Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the greater protection of worker rights, improvement of labor standards, and the empowerment of women following a private meeting in Cambodia with union leaders and labor activists.
Cambodia's Young, Independent New Unions Challenge the Status Quo and Win.
July 26, 2011—Led by young, mostly female workers, Cambodia’s growing independent labor movement is winning important economic and legal battles for Cambodian workers in spite of a challenging political environment dominated by longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party.
Strong Unions Create a Stronger Cambodia.
AFL-CIO Working America staffer Alison Omens reports from Siem Reap as part of a four-member U.S. labor Exchange Program to Cambodia funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by the Solidarity Center. Cambodian workers identified the three biggest reasons unions must prosper in Cambodia: unions help solve problems on the job with bosses; stronger unions mean strong workers in the workplace; and unions help create better economic conditions and a better Cambodia. Read previous posts here
Fired Cambodian Hotel Workers Back on the Job
. The Solidarity Center helped striking hotel workers in Cambodia exercise their rights on the job.