Cambodian Garment Workers Struggle as Wages Drop: The Responsibility of Global Brands

Cambodian Garment Workers Struggle as Wages Drop: The Responsibility of Global Brands
A photo from ABC News; Enric Catala/Clean Clothes Campaign.


Anna Vu kim 

Southeast Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Researchers

Global Human Rights Defence

Thousands of Cambodian garment workers, who labor tirelessly to produce clothing for global giants like Nike and Adidas, are experiencing a sharp drop in their wages. This alarming development has brought into focus the ethical responsibility of these multinational corporations, shedding light on the precarious conditions of workers in the global supply chain.

 With over 1,000 factories employing approximately 800,000 workers, this sector contributes significantly to the nation's GDP. According to a recent report by ABC News, Cambodian garment workers are facing wage cuts as high as 25%. This decrease in earnings exacerbates the already challenging living conditions faced by these workers, many of whom are the primary breadwinners for their families. 

Global brands have a significant presence in Cambodia's garment industry. They source a substantial portion of their products from Cambodian factories, drawn by the low labor costs and efficient production capabilities. While these brands have profited immensely from their association with Cambodia's garment industry, they must also acknowledge their responsibility to ensure the well-being of the workers who contribute to their success.

One way for global brands to demonstrate their commitment to worker rights is by participating in initiatives that promote transparency and ethical sourcing. This includes working with local and international organizations to conduct regular wage assessments and investing in programs that provide workers with essential skills and resources to improve their livelihoods.

The plight of Cambodian garment workers highlights the urgent need for global brands to take responsibility for the welfare of those who contribute to their profits. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the vulnerabilities faced by these workers, and it is incumbent upon multinational corporations to prioritize their well-being. By paying fair wages and ensuring safe working conditions, these brands can make a tangible difference in the lives of Cambodian garment workers and set a positive example for the entire global supply chain industry. 

Sources and further reading:

Handley, E. (September 22, 2023). As global brands bounce back from COVID-19, Cambodian garment workers face spiralling debt.
Retrieved on September 22, 2023, from