(Preliminary?) Success for the Right to Organise at H&M Supplier in Cambodia
10 union activists achieved reinstatement to their jobs after seven
hard months fighting River Rich Textile Ltd., Cambodia. River Rich
is part of HongKong based Addchance Holding, producing knitwear,
for H&M and Inditex, among others.
Reacting to the formation of an independent union in October 2006,
River Rich fired 117 workers. 30 of them took up the fight for reinstatement
with support of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’
Democratic Union (C.CAWDU). In Februar 2007, an agreement between
River Rich and the union was signed by management.
But when it came to implementation of this agreement, River Rich
started obstructing massively. Using double tactics, River Rich
first offered large severance pay to union members who resigned
from reinstatement, which 20 of them accepted. The remaining 10
activists then became subject to a series of threats and intimidation
activities. When the union reacted by organising protests, management
called the police who increased pressure on the workers by using
batons on them and shooting in the air with their guns.
Only after an international solidarity campaign, supported by the
international union federation ITGLWF among others, the February
agreement between company and union was at last implemented in June
2007. The remaining 10 workers were reinstated and paid their back
A concrete frame of cooperation between company and union was agreed
upon. Time will show if the implementation of this agreement will
work smoothly and sustainably. The company’s respect of this
agreement will probably depend on the (international) attention
the union can continually raise for their case.
This sceptical view is based on the context that the fight for
the Right to Organise is extremely dangerous for Cambodian activists.
Only the most visible aspect hereof, and tip of the iceberg, is
the sad fact that three unionists, fighting for the Right to Organise
and better working conditions in Cambodia’s garment industry,
have been murdered within the last three years.