Labor rights organizations and footwear and apparel industry groups sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Cambodia noting the lack of progress that has been made since the Fair Labor Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association and representatives from Adidas, H&M, New Balance, Nike, Puma, Under Armour, and VF Corp appealed to the government for improvements in labor rights in October 2018. In February 2019, the European Union is began proceedings to suspend Cambodia’s preferential trade status for the government’s failure to respect human and labor rights. The United States is also set to review Cambodia’s trade status as well.
The letter called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to address concerns raised by the EU and the apparel and footwear brands. The signers noted, “Criminal charges and convictions remain in place against many labor leaders, the Trade Union Law of 2016 continues to restrict the establishment of unions and union activity, and the diminished role and reduced independence of the [Cambodian] Arbitration Council continues to undercut what was a very effective dispute resolution mechanism. Each of these developments undermines progress towards improving worker rights and stabilizing the garment, footwear, and travel goods manufacturing sector. These issues are emblematic of some of the larger human rights issues in Cambodia.”