Eight major clothing brands, including Swedish H&M and Spanish Inditex, which owns Zara, British New Look, and Irish Primark, have sent a letter to the Cambodian deputy prime minister saying they will pay more for goods sourced there in order to help raise pay for the country’s garment workers.
“Workers in all production countries have the right to a fair living wage,” the letter states. “As responsible Business’ [sic] our purchasing practices will enable the payment of a fair living wage.” The letter also calls on the government to establish a monitoring and policing system to ensure workers actually get any higher minimum wage to “create a competitive advantage for the factories that comply with the new minimum wage” and the installation of a yearly collective bargaining process for the workers.
The corporate support comes after at least 1,000 garment workers staged rallies in the capital last week to reinvigorate the movement for a higher minimum wage. They are calling for a raise to $177 a month from the current $100 monthly minimum wage. The demonstrations came without strikes — they were held on lunch breaks — and reportedly without violence, despite the deployment of armed troops.
The country’s garment sector is home to as many as half a million jobs and generates a third of the country’s GDP.
Read more: Think Progress