Today workers and their supporters across the globe descended on Walmart offices to collect money owed to Cambodian garment workers who are owed thousands of dollars.
More than 200 workers have been sleeping on the sidewalk outside of a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia since Jan. 3 after the factory owners illegally closed the facility in what workers contend is a violation of Cambodian law. Workers are owed unpaid wages and other compensation.
Workers and supporters asked Walmart representatives at the company’s west coast headquarters in Irvine, California to enforce the company’s “Standards for Suppliers” domestically and abroad and to ensure the Cambodian workers are properly compensated. Carlos Martinez, a warehouse worker, told Walmart reps that the issue in Phnom Penh hits close to home.
“Half my family is Cambodian so this issue is especially close to my heart,” Martinez said. “We are here to support justice for Cambodian workers, but also to point out that there are many violations at their contracted warehouses here in Southern California too.”
Khmer Girls In Action, an advocacy organization based in Long Beach, joined the delegation. “Khmer Girls In Action stands in solidarity with Cambodian garment workers fighting for their unpaid wages,” said Justine Calma of KGA. “Every day women, especially young women of color like the garment workers in Phnom Penh, are undercompensated and exploited for their work both locally and globally. As an organization that empowers young Southeast Asian women to organize for change in their communities, KGA supports the garment workers in their struggle for safe and just labor conditions.”
Walmart representatives took a letter detailing the issues affecting Cambodian workers and recommendations about how to fix them. They also received a copy of an editorial from The New York Times calling on Walmart to do “much more” to ensure fire safety for workers.
Garment workers in Cambodia hold signs that say “Walmart and H&M branches should respect their own code of conduct.”
Supporters visited the Walmart office in Hong Kong where shouted “Walmart, Compensation Now!” and displayed a large banner demanding justice. Walmart officials told them to return Monday, Feb. 4 to speak to a manager in charge of Cambodian procurement. Supporters vowed to return.