Christmas 'fashion mobs'
Calls for a living wage in Cambodia
Campaigners across Europe are taking protests to their local shopping centres to raise awareness of poverty wages of Cambodian garment workers.
The undercover 'fashion mobs' are taking place in 10 countries all over Europe, among them Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland and Norway.
Activists from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) will be placing cards (pictured below) on items of clothing in branches of H&M, Zara, Levi’s and Gap to help raise awareness of the issue with shop workers and consumers.
The CCC wants retailers to publicly support the Cambodian trade union's goal of a $131/month minimum wage goal as a first step towards a proper living wage, and to produce an action plan to ensure suppliers pay their workers accordingly. At present, the minimum wage for a garment worker in Cambodia is $61/month, this amounts to less than 25% of a living wage in Cambodia.
"The very low wages are one of the main challenges for garment workers in Cambodia. They see themselves forced to work very long hours, they do not earn sufficiently to buy enough nutritious food and are unable to satisfy the needs of their families. The bottom line is that the workers are paid poverty wages,” says Jeroen Merk of the International Clean Clothes Campaign.
“There is an urgent need for a wage hike for the workers producing for European consumers,” says Athit Kong, Vice President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (C.CAWDU). “The retailers have an indisputable role and all big buyers must work together and in true dialogue with independent unions in Cambodia to improve the wages.”
“The big buyers, among them H&M should be aware of the unacceptable situation in the factories, yet they refuse to ensure a living wage to the workers. This despite the fact that H&M in 2011 had a profit of almost 2 billion Euros and H&M chairman and main shareholder Stefan Persson is among the 8 richest people in the world,” says Klaus Melvin Jensen of Clean Clothes Campaign Denmark.
He added “It is crucial that the consumers react by telling the retail companies that their lack of action is unacceptable. This must be the last year Christmas shoppers buy clothes made on poverty wages. After all the workers’ wage is only 1-3% of the total cost of most garments.”
Tomorrow activists will strike in Eindhoven to add to actions that have already happend in Copenhagen, Oslo, Krakow and Warsaw.