Following the crackdown, the government said demonstrations would no longer be tolerated, while manufacturers resumed factory production as the capital settled into an uneasy calm.
According to Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia — which represents the country’s more than 400 exporting factories — the industry lost about $200 million in clothing sales, while about $70 million of potential investment was deferred from the country when the strikes began on Dec. 24, after the government said that the minimum wage would increase by $15 to $95 a month.
“In the last 15 days, five to seven factories have canceled their trips to Cambodia to invest here because of [the strikes],” Sou Ieng said, speaking during a conference Monday on the garment sector’s wage issues.
He added that the immediate reaction from buyers is either legal action against the manufacturers in order to receive insurance claims to refund their losses, or to cancel any coming orders.
“The second consequence is that buyers will not place as many orders in the next year. We expect them to reduce their orders by 20 to 30 percent,” Sou Ieng said. “Experience in Bangladesh has given us that data, and [the buyers] will tell us ourselves that they are not making any orders for April and May.”
Sou Ieng declined to comment on whether the manufacturers would be open to continuing wage negotiations, saying only that the talks cannot happen “under threat.”
Cambodia’s garment sector generated more than $5 billion in exports during 2013 and is a manufacturing base for some of the biggest global brands, including H&M and Gap Inc. Both retail giants condemned Friday’s violence perpetrated by the security forces, as did local and international rights groups.
But Sou Ieng on Monday continued to defend the government’s use of force to suppress the protesters.
“If there was no such violence [by the protesters], there would be no such police action,” Sou Ieng said. “The intention of the police to secure law and order is appropriate.”
According to Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, the manufacturers filed a legal complaint against union leaders who had mobilized their members during the nationwide strikes, and all wage negotiations have been postponed until that is resolved.
“The manufacturers have filed a complaint against all the union leaders, so now we will let the court take action first,” Sour said. “After everything has been finished with this process, maybe we will have a meeting again [to discuss the wage].”
At least one union leader, Rong Chhun of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, has been summoned to court for questioning on Jan. 14.
Unions have largely instructed workers to return to the factories, but Ken Chheng Lang, deputy director of the National Independent Federation Textile Union in Cambodia — which was one of the unions participating in the strike — said they are still trying to fight for a higher amount.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast