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Retailers Want Meeting With Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

A group of global unions and retailers, including Inditex SA, Hennes & Mauritz AB and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., called for a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen after a wage strike lead to deadly clashes.

In a letter dated Jan. 17, the retailers request a meeting in the week of Feb. 3 and said they strongly support United Nation demands that the Cambodian government start “a prompt and thorough” investigation into the events at the start of this month when workers and bystanders were injured and killed by security forces.

“The use of deadly force against protesting workers will not result in long-term industrial peace and jeopardizes Cambodia’s position as a stable sourcing location for international brands,” the group said. “Industrial peace is required to rebuild our confidence in the Cambodian garment industry.”

At least three people were killed when police crushed a protest by striking garment workers in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia Daily reported Jan. 3, citing police. The protesters were part of a nationwide strike by garment workers demanding a doubling of the minimum wage to $160 a month, while the government offered about $100.

The retailers said the government should accept technical assistance from the UN’s International Labour Organization to establish an effective wage-setting mechanism and develop and implement a trade union law. The government must also respect the rights of detained trade union leaders and workers as well as respect the right for the freedom of association, the group said.

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