Support the Right to Unionize

Cambodian Garment Worker

Target: Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen

Goal: Stop employers from threatening workers, and remove the obstacles preventing Cambodian workers from forming unions

Garment factory workers in Cambodia are being threatened by their employers and government when they try to form unions. The employers have threatened employees with the loss of their jobs, and the government has banned public demonstrations and used security forces to disperse protests. This lack of concern for workers needs to stop, and the Cambodian government needs to enforce its country’s labor laws by allowing unions to exist.

The garment factories that supply international brands regularly use threats, firing, and non-renewal of temporary workers to prevent their workers from forming unions. Despite a letter written by international brands sent to the Prime Minister, stating their support for unions, the government has done little to ensure that unions come to fruition. If anything, the government continues thwarting attempts to unionize or for workers to gain rights in the work place.

In an interview with 200 garment workers, Human Rights Watch documented the conditions these workers experience on a daily basis. The workers detailed problems with anti-union discrimination, management harassment, unlawful employment practices, and poor working conditions. Many stated that they wanted to join a union, or create their own, but feared losing their jobs. One such employee was required to give his thumbprint on a letter stating that he would not join a union, or else lose his job.

In a recent demonstration in Phnom Penh in support of higher wages for garment workers, security forces that included regular army units and gendarmes used excessive force to break up the gathering. Security forces fired at and beat the protesters, killing five, injuring several who were later taken to the hospital, and arresting 23 who have yet to be granted bail or face trial.

Cambodian workers should be treated with more respect, and should be allowed to form unions without losing their jobs. The government should ensure these rights are not taken away from employees, and should not halt demonstrations concerning workers’ wages or unions. Sign this petition and urge the prime minister to do everything in his power to ensure workers can form unions.


Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

I am writing this letter to express my concern over garment workers in your country. These workers have struggled to form unions despite the threat of losing their jobs. However, their employers and the government continue to deny workers the right to unionize. Their employers threaten to fire them, and the government disperses demonstrations meant to raise workers’ wages or form unions.

This needs to stop. Workers have a right to form unions and if they feel they are being mistreated, they should be able to speak out and fight against it. Your government needs to stop dispersing protests and ensure unions are created. Your government should also punish employers who threaten their workers should they form unions.

Your citizens are trying to fight for a better life. The government shouldn’t be an obstacle, but a supporter of this goal.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ILO in Asia and the Pacific via flickr

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