Workers’ agency and re-working power relations in Cambodia’s garment industry
Abstract This paper explores Cambodian garment factory workers’ collective voice and ability to negotiate a living wage. Workers’ agency is examined through a case study of a large-scale strike in September 2010 over national minimum wage negotiations, led by two Cambodian trade union federations. Analysis is centred on four structural impediments to workers’ wage demands. First, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) consolidated power in 2008. As a result, space for independent trade unions and civil society is decreasing. Second, Cambodia is not deemed ‘competitive’ as a global sourcing option in terms of price, quality and speed to market. As a result, low wages and a proliferation of unmonitored subcontract factories are increasingly becoming the industry’s competitive advantage vis-à-vis Bangladesh and Vietnam. Third, the proliferation of fixed-duration contracts in Cambodia means work is less secure, with attendant impacts on workers and unions’ negotiating strength. And fourth, the unusually high number of plant-level and national trade union federations makes it difficult for ‘genuine’ unions to promote the rights of their members, and workers’ agency potential is marginalized. The intersection of these four structural forces circumscribes workers and independent trade unions’ ability to rework power relations with the employers association, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). Despite the challenges, workers and independent unions recognize themselves as the agents who must shape key demands, including on wages.
|Date of creation:||2013|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Humanities Bridgeford Street, Oxford Road,Manchester, M13 9PL|
Phone: +44(0)7717 881567
Web page: http://www.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Yamagata, Tatsufumi, 2006. "The Garment Industry in Cambodia: Its Role in Poverty Reduction through Export-Oriented Development," IDE Discussion Papers 62, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
- Andy Cumbers & Corinne Nativel & Paul Routledge, 2008. "Labour agency and union positionalities in global production networks," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 369-387, May.
- Cornelia Staritz, 2011. "Making the Cut? Low-Income Countries and the Global Clothing Value Chain in a Post-Quota and Post-Crisis World," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2547, April.
- Neil M. Coe & Peter Dicken & Martin Hess, 2008. "Global production networks: realizing the potential," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 271-295, May.
- Ben Selwyn, 2012. "Beyond firm-centrism: re-integrating labour and capitalism into global commodity chain analysis," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 205-226, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:ctg-2013-24. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rowena Harding)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.