Garment Worker Groups

Social Protection For The Most Marginalised Informal Workers

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Paper publication date: 
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Who are Sub-Contracted Garment Workers?

Sub-Contracted Garment Workers are workers who are typically employed on a piece-rate basis (i.e. cost per part of garment) or by doing high season work in sub contractors’ enterprises which are operated from private homes, warehouses or industrial buildings, or in factories. Sub-Contracted Garment Workers are often vulnerable to abusive labour practices that violate local law and international norms. There were 614,540 garment workers in the wearing apparel sector in 2012, while the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) database only showed that there were 376,920 garment and 70,932 footwear workers in registered exporting factories (ILO bulletin). Of this amount, employment in the non-exporting or subcontracting factories represented a little over a quarter (27.1%) of employment in the sector (Ibid).

“I am proud to be a part in promoting the working conditions for our sub-contracted workers,” said Ms Chai Try, An elected Local Woman Trade Union Leaders representing the workers in Graceful, a sub-contracting factory. The Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Unions (C.CAWDU) organised this union because some  critical issues were identified such as short-term contracts (which are renewed over and over but workers never receive long term contracts–leaving people without work benefits and instability), low piece-rate, and forcing workers to work overtime. “Being a Trade Union Leader, I am more confident in myself to speak with factory management, members and workers. I believe in myself to bargain with employers for decent wage, better working conditions and gender equality. Moreover, now I have a stable job and have better benefits,” she said. “ I keep going to advocate with employers for betterworking conditions, living wages, and gender equality in the Graceful factory as well as other factories in the garment and footwear sector,” she added.

Founded in 2000, the goal of C.CAWDU is to form one voice for all unions and increase union membership and bargaining power in order to negotiate with employers and the government for better working conditions, living wages, and gender equality. C.CAWDU currently represents both formal and informal workers, with 90,265 members (90% are females) and 116,199 workers in 58 local unions (Annual database of C.CAWDU trade union branches 2017) in garment factories. And, around 800 members (689 women) in 11 sub-contracting factories and home-based groups.

The support C.CAWDU provides to its members includes: