Cambodia’s garment-making sector first entered many people’s consciousness in 2014, the year workers, human rights activists and unionists first took to the streets of the capital, Phnom Penh, to demand a minimum living wage for garment workers. Three years later, the flames of those original protests still flicker, with activists dressed in their distinctive orange t-shirts continuing to raise their voices on behalf of garment workers’ rights.
The garment industry is the backbone of Cambodia’s economy. More than 600 garment and footwear factories produce apparel for around 200 international brands. Primarily a cut/make/trim industry, raw materials are imported into the country in a bid to take advantage of cheap Cambodian labour. In September 2016, the minimum wage for a garment worker was set at 153 USD per month. Up to one million people now work in the garment sector, many of whom are migrant workers who come to Phnom Penh from rural areas. Up to 90% of them are women.
Fashion Revolution Cambodia aims to educate consumers about the realities Cambodia’s garment workers face on a day-to-day basis. We are seeking to raise awareness about issues such as child labour and forced labour, discrimination and unsafe working conditions, while also voicing our support for the ongoing living wage campaign. We aim to stand beside other grassroots movements and show our allegiance to those individuals and organisations who are engaged in the relentless fight for change. We also want to celebrate the independent makers, international brands and local co-ops operating in Cambodia that actively observe the principles of fair trade to ensure the safety and rights of their employees.
On the 24th of April 2016, Fashion Revolution Day was officially marked in Cambodia for the first time. In 2018, we are once again inviting brands, manufacturers and consumers to raise their voices on behalf of Cambodia’s garment workers. If you’re interested in being part of Fashion Revolution Week 2018 or contributing to the movement on an ongoing basis, please connect with us on social media!
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