Left Menu
Development News Edition

Trouble to mount for clothing industry after EU revokes tax-free access to Cambodia goods

Trouble to mount for clothing industry after EU revokes tax-free access to Cambodia goods
Image Credit: Pixabay

The European Union's move to revoke Cambodia's duty-free access could force major clothing brands out of the manufacturing hub and worsen conditions for workers, industry experts said. Cambodia has six months to convince its biggest export market that it has arrested a backslide on human rights and democracy. If it fails, the EU will strike it from the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which could trigger a chain of events that advocates fear will rob them of their strongest leverage point in the fight for improved working conditions.

"We cannot depend on any authority or any procedures inside the country to protect the rights of workers," said Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, which has about 20,000 members. "If we don't have the EBA, then we will no longer be able to pressure big brands and consumers in Europe over the treatment of workers."

About 700,000 people - mostly women - work in Cambodia's garment industry, which accounts for the lion's share of the country's $5.8 billion worth of exports to the EU each year. Workers speak of an industry beset by forced overtime, unsafe working conditions and the obstruction of unionisation.

But in recent years their plight has been pushed into the spotlight, with advocacy groups running campaigns that have forced brands to clean up supply chains in a race to retain their share of an increasingly aware consumer market. "The brands are the ones who have the power to push employers to respect the law and the rights of workers," said At Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.

At Thon pointed to the Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) initiative - a project of the U.N.'s International Labour Organization that since 2001 has held all exporting garment factories to a prescribed standard. "This concept has helped to push for improved work conditions and wages," he said, adding that if Cambodia was to lose its biggest export market, the project could become redundant.

Wages have risen sharply in Cambodia's garment sector, to a minimum of $182 per month this year from $61 in 2012. But Khun Tharo, a program coordinator at the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights, said union leaders were giving brands too much credit.

"Sure, wages have increased, but at the same time we have seen the overloading of livelihoods - higher production targets, longer overtime - in order to achieve those wages," he said. In 2013, Swedish clothing giant H&M pledged to pay a fair living wage to 1.6 million people working in factories it sources from around the world.

In 2018, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer held a summit in Phnom Penh where executives said they were yet to deliver that promise to a single worker. "Are they really accountable, are they really committed?" Khun Tharo said of brands in general. "I don't think so. Just like in business, they are competing with other brands to take credit and increase credibility."

(With inputs from agencies.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.



Beware! Maximum cyber criminals eye your personal data

A report of the World Economic Forum revealed that cyber security is increasingly becoming an issue of public security as the majority of cyber criminals are increasingly targetting individual internet users. This requires preventive measur...

WEF 2020: Trump seems politically correct in pulling out from Paris Agreement

If the survey of the World Economic Forum WEF is believed, Trump seems to enjoy the confidence of his people in flaying climate intuitions and climate activists. His preference for economic development over environmental protection not only...

From home to healthcare, here are Robotic innovations transforming lives

Lovot is equipped with more than 50 sensors such as thermography, microphone array, obstacle detection, and touch sensor to generate motion and emotions in real-time....

Translating words to deeds: Achieving gender parity in access to financial resources

... ...


Latest News

UPDATE 1-India, Brazil sign 15 accords to deepen ties across range of sectors

India and Brazil have signed 15 accords aimed at forging closer ties between the two emerging market giants across a range of sectors, especially defense, both countries leaders tweeted on Saturday.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Br...

India will wholeheartedly back its athletes at Tokyo Olympics: President

President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said India will wholeheartedly back its athletes when they represent the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9. In his traditional address to the nation on the...

Ben Stokes reprimanded for hurling abuses at fan

England all-rounder Ben Stokes on Saturday was fined 15 per cent of his match fees for using audible obscenity during an international match. The star all-rounder was found guilty of breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during the f...

China's Xi warns virus is 'accelerating', country facing 'grave situation'

Beijing, Jan 25 AFP Chinese President Xi Jinping warned China was facing a grave situation given the accelerating spread of a new SARS-like virus that has infected nearly 1,300 people across the country, state media reported Saturday. Faced...

Give Feedback