Under Armour, VF and More Pen Letter Citing Ongoing Labor Concerns in Cambodia

Nearly two dozen apparel and footwear brands have penned a letter urging action on what they call a “labor and human rights situation” in Cambodia.

Addressing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the American Apparel and Footwear Association-led coalition — including Under Armour, Vans and Timberland parent VF, Ralph Lauren, Lululemon and Adidas — expressed ongoing concerns about labor and human rights in the Southeast Asian country.

Such issues were first raised in another letter sent by the AAFA in November 2018 — a month after a delegation of international brands met with Cambodian government officials to discuss the concerns.

“Despite this progress, many of the issues raised in the [November 2018] letter remain valid,” read the Jan. 22-dated letter. “The credibility of Cambodia’s apparel, footwear and travel goods sectors are at stake.”

In the letter sent Tuesday, the group urged the country to amend the trade union law, which it said fell short of international labor rights standards; repeal the Law on Associations and NGOS, which it said “enables an atmosphere of harassment and repression” against civil society organizations and unions; as well as drop all outstanding criminal charges against labor activists.

“We urge the government of Cambodia to publicly present a roadmap — together with an inclusive tripartite national mechanism — that sets out and implements specific, concrete and time-bound steps to bring Cambodia in line with international standards on the above issues,” the brands added.

Many of the companies that signed the most recent letter had been sourcing products from Cambodia since the mid-1990s. (Together, their work with Cambodian suppliers contributed to roughly $9.5 billion in apparel, footwear and travel imports last year, reported the AAFA.)

In May, another group of companies — also including Adidas, VF and Under Armour as well as Nike and Gap — wrote to the prime minister, resulting in the Cambodian government’s decision to overturn some of the criminal charges against union leaders and propose amendments to the trade union law, which governs workers’ rights to union representation.

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