Strikes cost Cambodia $200m

PHNOM PENH - Weeks of strikes by Cambodian garment workers have cost the sector 200 million United States dollars in sales, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

Association chairman Van Sou Ieng said some buyers were threatening to cancel contracts or take legal action because of losses incurred, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Garments are the country's biggest export industry, valued at about $5 billion last year and employing around 600,000 people, mainly young women from rural areas.

Popular European and American brands such as Gap, H&M, Puma and Adidas source clothes made in Cambodia's factories.

The government recently agreed to raise garment workers’ monthly minimum wage to $100 from $80, but workers' unions have demanded an increase to $160.

The latest strike ended Friday after clashes between police and demonstrators left five people dead.

The International Trade Union Federation condemned authorities for using force to break up the workers' protests.

"Cambodia's government must return to the negotiating table and agree to a fair wage for garment workers and cease the dictatorial repression of legitimate strike action by workers," the federation said.

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