Thousands keep up protest at Cambodian garment factory
May 29, 2013
About 3,500 workers protested on Wednesday at a factory in Cambodia that makes clothing for U.S. sportswear company Nike, refusing to give up their campaign for higher pay despite a crackdown by police this week.
At least 23 people were injured on Monday when police with riot gear and stun batons were deployed to assault about 3,000 workers, most of them women, who had blocked a road outside the factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh. One woman who was two months pregnant lost her child after military police pushed her to the ground, according to a trade union representative.
The workers walked out on strike on May 21. Sun Vanny, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at Sabrina, said about 4,000 workers were expected to join the protest on Thursday. “We will continue the strike to demand what they want,” Vanny said, adding that union representatives had been invited for talks on Wednesday but no agreement had been reached. "We want to know why violence was used against the woman and workers, we want to know who hired these officers to come," he added, referring to Monday’s clash.
A Nike spokeswoman in the United States told Reuters by email on Monday that the company was “concerned” about the allegations that workers had been hurt and was investigating. Nike requires contract manufacturers to respect employees’ rights to freedom of association, the spokeswoman added, but instead of acting in any way that reflects their statements, they have only made decisions to create suffering for workers.
Many Western capitalists, attracted by cheap labor, have turned to Asia to get their garments made at a cost that will make them attractive to customers in the troubled economies of Europe and North America looking for discounted clothing. A series of deadly incidents at factories in Bangladesh, the world’s biggest clothing exporter after China, including the collapse of a building last month that killed more than 1,000 people, has focused the world’s attention on safety standards.
Strikes over pay and working conditions have become common in Cambodia, where garments accounted for 75 percent of total exports of $5.22 billion in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.
This month, two people were killed at a factory producing running shoes for Asics when part of a warehouse fell in on them.
“Neoliberalization has not been very effective in revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded remarkably well in restoring, or in some instances creating, the power of an economic elite. The theoretical utopianism of neoliberal argument has, I conclude, primarily worked as a system of justification and legitimation for whatever needed to be done to achieve this goal.”― David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism
“This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated rather than capitalism.”― Tariq Ali, The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad
We have people refusing to be wage-slaves working in terribly dangerous, life-threatening conditions who organize democratically in protest and the response of the capitalists, of course, is to hire a brute force to stomp out the democracy. Disgusting. Capitalism is evil.