On Sunday, 09th March 2014, the first training course for 10 selected female garment workers took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The objective of this training course is to establish a network of Cambodian garment workers who later shall publish articles and pictures about their health, safety and security conditions. Therefor the 10 garment workers have been equipped with smart phones to be able to take pictures, record sounds or even videos. The reports by the workers will be shared on the homepage of RLS’s partner organisation the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM). While this project is focusing on giving the garment workers a chance to address the problems they suffering from by themselves, a radio programme will report about their discoveries and latest developments on a weekly basis. Eventually two video clips will be produced and broadcasted on social media.
The project idea was based on the proposal CCIM had submitted to RLS at the end of last year. After a successful pilot activity in 2013, to explore more information about the situation on Cambodian garment workers, the new project follows up the results and impressions CCIM and RLS have won during the first phase of the project. The first phase was closed with the production of two investigative videos and a final forum that was addressing the terrible conditions Cambodian garment workers are suffering from (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6s7XHzE3Qo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jVSt2wqIPc).
Now, CCIM, RLS and Action Aid Cambodia are jointly working on awareness rising and to improve the health, safety and security conditions of the workers. By the end of the project period not only Cambodia’s society but also consumers in Europe or all over the world shall be more aware of the living conditions of the people manufacturing our daily goods. Just recently bloody clashes between striking garment workers, 90% of them being women, and the police were reported in the media worldwide and brought attention on the struggle for an increase of the very low minimum wage in the textile industry. The garment industry is Cambodia’s main export booster at about 85% of the country’s total export industry. It is the biggest formal working sector in the Southeast Asian kingdom and is employing about 400,000 people. A further, approximately 500,000 more people are working in the garment supply industry. For the next days, Cambodia’s garment unions have announced further strikes. One can only hope that everything stays peaceful and that the voices of workers will be heard by the responsible agencies and employers.
Manuel Palz, in cooperation with Nadja Charaby