Peoples’ Tribunal in Cambodia

The “Peoples’ Tribunal on the Minimum Living Wage and Decent Working Conditions as a Fundamental Human Right” is taking place from 5-8 February 2012 in Phnom Penh. It is being held at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre.

The Tribunal is being undertaken to pursue a global campaign for an Asia Floor Wage targeting garment manufacturers, suppliers, consumer-importers, garment workers and government officials. The Cambodia tribunal is second among other national hearings are scheduled in upcoming months, and will culminate in a session being requested at the People’s Permanent Tribunal. The Tribunal in Cambodia will hear the testimonies of garment workers and experts on wage deficits and the Asia Floor Wage.
The testimonies will provide cases and arguments towards the following objectives:

1. Establish whether the Supply Chain of garment industry is conducive for decent labour standards for workers, specifically women workers, using the ILO guidelines;
2. Determine the magnitude of workers, specifically women workers, in the Garment Global Supply Chain, working and living in conditions that fall far short of Decent Labour Standards;
3. Analyse the role of gender in determining the state of labour standards;
4. Investigate the causes of the deficit in terms of:
Adequacy of national regulatory framework
Effectiveness of ILO’s core conventions
Purchasing practices of multinationals
International trade regulatory mechanisms
Political economy of the garment Global Supply Chain
Adequacy of workers’ organizations, especially of women workers; and
5. Evaluate Proposals for establishing Decent Labour Standards and make

The term “Tribunal” is term comes from a historical view of how social justice groups have found a people’s tribunal to be useful as a platform to voice grievances.  The term “people” refers to those who are suffering.  A people’s tribunal’s goals have been about popularizing the notion of justice; educating the public; and democratizing legal processes. We believe that a people’s tribunal can be empowering to women workers in the garment industry.

The deficit in wages came to public attention in Cambodia in the recent strikes by garment workers for higher wages. The 20,000 strikers were mostly women workers. Large sections of the workers came out on their own to join the strikes regardless of their trade unions’ non-participation announcements in the strike. This showed that low wages is such a big issue for the workers. Official support for the strikes was difficult to negotiate and due process of law was not viable for most workers. In the proposed People’s Tribunal on Minimum Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment Workers as a Fundamental Right we propose to create this space.

In the proposed People’s Tribunal we intend to allow workers to articulate the effects that low wages have on them as workers and as women. We intend also to examine the existing legal provisions in national and international law on wages and decent work and see if the human rights of the Cambodian workers have been violated. We intend also to examine the proposals for an Asia Floor Wage as a possibility to correct this wage deficit by dialogue with the leading garment brands which source from Cambodia. The People’s Tribunal in Cambodia is the second in a series of tribunals that will culminate in an international tribunal in 2012.

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