Friday, January 10, 2014

MALAYSIA>>Cambodia Solidarity Action in Malaysia

Stop the violence against Cambodian garment workers from Heather Stilwell on Vimeo.

Groups condemn Cambodia worker crackdown

Representatives from local and international NGOs submit a memorandum to the Cambodian embassy.
KUALA LUMPUR: Several civil society groups handed over a memorandum to the Cambodian embassy today, protesting the neighbouring country’s recent violent crackdown on workers striking for higher wages.
Representatives from Dignity International, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Committee for Asian Women, Jerit, MTUC, Suaram and Junior Officers Union Tenaga Nasional Berhad submitted the letter to Chhay Kosal, third secretary (Consular and Administration) at the embassy.

“We the undersigned strongly condemn the use of extreme force, violence and arrest to quell garment workers’ strike in Cambodia on Jan 2 and 3, 2014.
“The garment workers’ strike is a legitimate expression of the desperation of garment workers who are crushed under poverty level wages,” the memorandum, endorsed by 17 local and international NGOs as well as Klang MP Charles Santiago and Senator Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, reads.
The letter urged for the Cambodian authorities to release those arrested, and also called upon brands such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart to support the implementation of US$160 (RM523) minimum wage in Cambodia.
“The workers are asking for very basic things, so there was no need for the police to interfere,” MTUC secretary-general N Gopal told Chhay when handing over the memorandum.
“Why not conduct roundtable talks and come to a peaceful solution instead of resorting to violence?”
Irene Xavier, from the committee for Asian Women Workers, said she was concerned for the plight of the workers as they mostly comprised women from rural areas who had immigrated to the city to work.
Chhay told the group of 10 representatives that the Cambodian authorities had only followed procedure when police arrested the workers.
“In Cambodia, the police have to investigate everything step by step, based on the procedure. We cannot interfere. But I will try my best to relay your concerns to the authorities,” said Chhay.
Adrian Pereira, the Asian Coordinator for Dignity International and the organiser of today’s gathering also pledged to send the letter to Cambodia’s Prime Minister and Minister of Labour.
Last Friday, Cambodian soldiers fired automatic rifles into crowds of demonstrators supporting a nationwide garment worker strike in Phnom Penh, killing at least four people and injuring dozens more.
The violence followed a Ministry of Labour announcement that the industry’s minimum wage would be raised to $95 (RM310) in 2014, less than the $160 (RM523) that unions demanded.

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