The Fair Labor Association (FLA) joins the international community in condemning the use of deadly force by Cambodian security forces against striking garment workers in Phnom Penh that led to the tragic deaths of at least three workers, injuries to many others, and the imprisonment of protesting workers. These are grave violations of international labor standards and basic human rights.
We commend those FLA company affiliates that have signed a joint brands and unions letter calling on the Prime Minister of Cambodia and the Cambodian government to take immediate measures to resolve the crisis. We urge all FLA company affiliates sourcing from Cambodia to communicate with their Cambodian suppliers to ensure that (1) the rights of detainees are respected; (2) the right to freedom of association is respected; (3) a legal framework to enhance industrial relations is introduced; and (4) a new wage-setting process is pursued.
The current situation seems to have linkages to the efforts for improved compliance with international labor rights over a number of years by many stakeholders in the Cambodian garment sector – the buyers, the employers, the Better Factories program of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and, of course, most of all, the workers themselves. We expect to see further demands for change in Cambodia, and we very much hope that the Cambodian people and the government will find a positive and nonviolent process to address concerns and improve working conditions. There is need for further engagement in the dialogue about fair wages in the industry. We are mindful that the issues are complex and dynamic, but much work has already been done by many to build a successful industry with a precedent-setting commitment to labor compliance. We are pleased to recall that in December the tripartite representatives signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO Better Factories program to strengthen the commitment to transparency and compliance.
We hope that all stakeholders will continue to build on that legacy through peaceful and mutually respectful negotiation. The FLA looks forward to taking an active role within the international community to urge progress in improving labor conditions in Cambodia and other manufacturing countries around the world.