Strikes by apparel industry workers in an industrial zone in the southeastern Cambodian province of Svay Rieng turned violent this week with a shooting on Monday that injured three people.
German sportswear label Puma confirmed that the incident took place Monday outside a factory run by Kaoway Sports Ltd., one of its suppliers. Puma summarized details of an initial investigation by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which had concluded that one worker was shot and in noncritical condition. Kaoway Sports is a member of GMAC.
On Tuesday, however, Puma said three female employees of Kaoway Sports had been injured in Monday’s events. It also said that one of them was hospitalized in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, and that a Puma official was en route to visit her, along with representatives from the Community Legal Education Center, a Cambodian human rights group.
The Phnom Penh Post reported Tuesday that Buot Chinda, 21, was in critical condition after Monday’s shooting. The Phnom Penh Post and China’s Xinhua News Agency said the three workers were shot by an unidentified assailant who later fled the scene.
Eyewitness accounts differ as to whether the gunman was a factory security guard or dressed in police uniform. It wasn’t possible to verify these accounts and Cheath Khemara, a senior GMAC official who was in Svay Rieng, did not respond to attempts Tuesday to reach him for comment.
The women were protesting outside a factory run by Kaoway Sports, a Taiwanese-owned factory, when the shooting took place. According to press reports, a police official said the strikers set fire to tires and destroyed factory property, but that they only fired warning shots. Police are investigating the shooting incident.
Kaoway Sports, which makes footwear for Puma, is located in Svay Rieng’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone. Xinhua quoted the provincial governor and the area’s top police official saying that Kaoway workers were among 3,000 workers in the zone who had been protesting for higher wages and better working conditions since last week. The other strikers were said to work for Kingmaker Footwear and water sports apparel manufacturer Sheico, both Taiwanese-owned.
On Monday, Puma had denied that Kaoway workers were on strike, saying, “Factory management…agreed to the demands raised during the general labor unrest in the region, although Kaoway Sports workers had not participated in the demonstration.” On Tuesday, Puma said the strikes were not initiated by Kaoway employees. It said, “Factory management has evacuated all personnel from the compound to ensure the employees’ safety and workers have been sent home,” adding that the factory would remain closed until further notice and that it would host meetings Tuesday and today with nongovernmental organizations and trade unions to attempt to find a solution to the protests.
Puma is one of the larger clothing labels to source from Cambodia, and its operations in the Southeast Asian country had been under scrutiny since 800 workers at its suppliers’ factories fainted last April. After the mass faintings, it said that measures had been taken to improve workers’ conditions in its factories.
The Manhattan Special Economic Zone is located about 50 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial capital of neighboring Vietnam. According to its Web site, no export duty is charged for goods shipped to Europe and no import duty is levied on goods entering the zone. Companies that set up there are also exempt from business income tax for up to nine years. Many of the factories that have set up in the zone, which lists the availability of abundant and low-cost labor as one of its advantages, are of Chinese origin and are involved in textile or garment manufacturing.
The Cambodian apparel and footwear export industry was valued at $4 billion last year and contributes to around 80 percent of the country’s exports. The $66 a month minimum wage in Cambodia, where apparel industry workers are largely female, is almost a third lower than that of neighboring Vietnam’s $95. The apparel industry has been beset by several large-scale strikes over the past year.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews