Conditions For H&M’s Workers In Cambodia Are Sub-standard

Because of their social and environmental initiatives the clothes producer recently received an award in Sweden, but here few weeks after the tune has changed, as H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is accused for using child labour and paying substandard wages to their workers in Cambodia.
Swedish owned H&M operates in 22 countries and has more than 50.000 employees. The company has stores all over Europe including Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland – next to Germany; Sweden is their second biggest market.
H&M has already experienced heavy criticism of its production chain, and has tried to improve, but there is still work to do according to the latest row of criticism.
“The company has record profits, but their workers have to live with 0.12 DK per t-shirt”, Danish newsletter 3F wrote on June 28.
And the Danish Newsletter isn’t the only one criticizing H&M.
The Swedish newspaper Expresssen has visited H&M’s textile factory Goldfame in Cambodia, where 8000 workers produce t-shirts. According to the newspaper, the factory had undernourished children aged 14 – 15 working under conditions that neared slavery.
The girls are paid 0.12 DKK for each t-shirt and the work load is so high that the girls collapse.
“I passed out three or four times, because I have to work late every day and eat the cheapest food available,” 18-year-old Chia Thyda, who started at the factory aged 14, says to Expressen.
Like her colleges she brings plain steamed rice to the factory every day that is all they can afford as their monthly pay is DKK 265.
When the girls pass out, they are moved to the factory’s first aid room, where they receive an injection and are sent home. The employees have to pay for the injection on their own.
”It costs me a full day’s wages every time I pass out,” Chia Thyda says.
Following the Swedish criticism of the conditions at the Goldflame factory, H&M launched their own investigation – an investigation still unfinished.
“We visited the management at the factory, and we interviewed both workers and union leaders,” H&M’s media spokesman, Katarina Kempe, said, adding that they during their visits to the factory never saw anything that even resembled child labour.

Trying to improve
This is far from the first time H&M is connected to child labour and substandard wages, but during the last years the company worked hard to restore their image. Ethical rules for production have among other things been introduced.
Duch Ineke Zeldenrust from the grass-roots organisation “Clean Clothes Campaign” has often been in contact with factories producing textiles for H&M.
In general she is satisfied with H&M’s improvement attempts on their factories around the world, but in two areas she would like to see change.
“Due to principles H&M will not give out names of the factories they use, and they are not good enough to put pressure on the governments of poor countries in order to raise the absolute minimum wages,” she says.

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