Week of 3 February 2020
Companies steps in to protect trade unions in their supply chains (17 companies sourcing garment, footwear, and travel goods from Cambodia; adidas sourcing from Myanmar) and Turkish metalworkers’ trade unions tackle the effect of inflation on wages
Legislative developments have recently been taking place in Cambodia related to labour rights. A range of stakeholders (including Cambodian and international civil society organisations, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Labor Organization) state that the legal revisions fall short of international labour rights standards, in particular when it comes to freedom of association, and rights to organize and collective bargaining. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister on 22 January, 17 companies (adidas, Burton, Esprit, Fruit of the Loom, Kik, Levi Strauss, lululemon, MEC, Montane, New Balance, PVH, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Salewa, Schoffel, Under Armour and VF Corporation), the American national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies (American Apparel & Footwear Association) and a number of other organisations reiterated this point. The private sector sourcing garment, footwear, and travel goods from Cambodia request that the government immediately amend the Trade Union Law so that it aligns with international standards, repeal a law that enables repression of civil society organizations and unions (the Law of Associations and NGOs) and drop all outstanding criminal charges against trade union leaders.
A footwear factory in Myanmar (Myanmar Infochamp) fired four workers when they sought to organise a trade union for the workers in the factory. The concerns they were seeking to address included management forcing workers to undertake non production-related work during lunch breaks, verbal abuse, and non-payment of bonuses. The factory also blacklisted the trade union leader, making it impossible for her to find a new factory position elsewhere. Adidas, a buyer from the factory, worked with civil society (Workers Rights Consortium, the Clean Clothes Campaign and Action Labor Rights) to address the case. Because the factory was going out of business, reinstatement of the workers was not an option. Adidas ensured that the factory would provide back pay to the fired trade union leaders, legally-owed severance pay to all workers following the factory closure and pay to the blacklisted trade union leader to compensate for preventing her from finding new employment.
A collective agreement governing approx. 200 metal companies and 130,000 trade union metalworkers in Turkey expired in 2019. On 29 January, following collective bargaining negotiations and striking activity, the relevant trade unions for metalworkers (Türk Metal, Birleşik Metal-İş and Özçelik-İş) reached an agreement with the Turkish Employers Association of Metal Industries. Of particular note, the agreement seeks to address the impact that high levels of inflation, combined with devaluation, has had on wages in Turkey. All wages and benefits will be increased above inflation levels every six months.