The new year started off inauspiciously for Cambodia, an important manufacturing base for major brands such as H&M, Gap and Levi Strauss. On Jan. 3, security forces opened fire on rioting workers who were protesting for higher wages in Phnom Penh, leaving at least four workers dead and more than 30 injured. Workers were calling for an increase to the monthly minimum wage, from $80 to $160, an amount labor activists say is enough to meet the rising costs of living in the country’s capital. Since the protests, the government has raised the minimum wage to $100 a month.
Here, Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co., talks about Levi’s history in Cambodia and what it hopes for the future of workers who sew the iconic Levi’s jeans. With 13 suppliers in Cambodia, Kobori said Levi’s is committed to staying in the country and helping to strengthen industrial relations.
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