Cambodian unions protested in front of the Adidas store in Phnom Penh on Thursday to demand the company help compensate factory workers who have been affected by Covid-19.
Kong Athit, President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), told reporters that there are about eight trade unions that want to send messages to Adidas to pay workers who made their products full wages for the duration of the pandemic.
The unions also demanded that Adidas pay a severance fund to workers to ensure they are financially stable if their factory goes bankrupt or carries out mass layoffs.
“We have been negotiating with Adidas but to no avail. They have responded to us but they have not yet decided whether to do it or not. So, we continue to put pressure on Adidas to choose whether to choose a private insurance fund or to fund it on their own,” Athit told reporters.
“But on our side, we suggest that Adidas make its own funds, which means that Adidas has to deduct the profits from the deductions in its products to pay off. We do not want the fund to be leased in private insurance because it can be difficult for workers and cost a lot of private companies,” he added.
Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that in Cambodia impacted workers are owed more than $11 million. So, he wants companies to take responsibility and respect workers' rights.
“We also want them to be responsible for garments, which means that they are the ones who get the most profit from the investment that comes from the productivity of Cambodian workers. So when they make a lot of money, they do not take into account the losses of the workers who produce them,” he said
“They are a world-class buyer and do not think of respecting the rights to life,” he added. “Everyone suffers from a serious crisis, especially the workers themselves. They ignore it, they do not participate in the promotion of the rights to life so we want them to not only speak, we want them to fully practice the code of ethics.”
Som Pisey, of Independent Trade Union Confederation, told Kiripost that it is a global campaign to demand the rights of workers whose factories have exploited workers or shut down without paying employees.
She added that along with the global campaign, they take this opportunity to join with other unions to spread the word and have a direct intervention from Adidas.
“This is not the first time we protested, it does not mean that they do not know but it seems that they ignore us, but we still make further demands and hope we have a chance,” Pisey said.
“They spend a lot of time working on making clothes for a brand, money is important for their livelihoods. When they need to rent a house and work for their companies, but they do not get paid, where did they get the money from?” she asked.
In an email to Kiripost, Adidas denied the allegations and said the company is committed to ensuring fair labor practices.
“We reject the allegations. Throughout the pandemic, Adidas has been committed to ensuring fair labor practices, fair wages and safe working conditions throughout our global supply chain,”
Sefan Pursche, director of media relations for Adidas, told Kiripost.
“We continued to uphold our standard manufacturing terms, including worker rights protection. Ensuring business continuity and a functioning supply chain has kept workers in jobs. We continued to be committed to ensuring legal compliance in terms of pay and benefits for all workers and tracked the working conditions in each and every factory.”