The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on December 29 issued a statement saying that trade unions’ calling for strikes that have made local garment factories out of work is an illegal action.

In its statement, GMAC accused six trade unions in Cambodia of appealing for strikes over the past days that led to actions such as destroying factory property, inciting workers to strike, and forcing workers to stop their work and factories to close down.

Strikes since December 25 have caused serious damage for garment factories, it said, adding that the obstruction of traffic and transportation has resulted in factories missing shipping schedules and unable to export our products.

Many factories have faced a risk of not receiving any payments from buyers due to non-delivery of goods. Even some will be penalized and be subjected to fines by buyers.

GMAC called on the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and trade unions to guarantee the safety of workers who want to work and safeguard all property of producers so that the factories can continue operations.

The six labor unions have led tens of thousands of garment and footwear workers to go on strikes since December 25 after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage in the garment sector to 95 USD from the current 80 USD, but those organisations disagreed with the new wage hike and demanded the government to force the GMAC to double worker's wage to 160 USD from 2014.

The garment and footwear sector is considered one of Cambodia ’s spearheads that contributes up to 70-75 percent of the country’s total export turnover and employs 500,000 people.

In 2012, Cambodia exported over 4.5 billion USD worth of garment products, becoming one of the largest garment exporters in the world. In the first 11 months of 2013, the figure was 5 billion USD.-VNA