‘Beautiful Clothes, Ugly Reality’: Cambodian women garment workers’ fashion show

May 30, 2014

On Sunday 25 May, IWDA partner organisation Worker’s Information Centre (WIC) in Cambodia held a fashion show to highlight the income gap between garment workers and the executives of the clothing brands whose clothes they sew.

Called ‘Beautiful Clothes, Ugly Reality’, the fashion show at WIC headquarters in Phnom Penh featured garment workers modelling clothes produced at the factories where they work. The show also included a reenactment of the January police violence that led to the deaths of five garment workers. Workers in riot gear costumes faced off against workers wearing headbands from the campaign for a $160 minimum wage.

Image of a Cambodian Garment worker
Cambodian garment workers contribute well over 4 billion dollars to the Cambodian economy each year, yet their monthly minimum wage would hardly buy a new pair of jeans here in Australia

Garment workers, who are mostly young women, receive less than US$100 per month for their work. They also face discrimination, harassment, forced overtime and other unfair working conditions.

Chrek Sophea of WIC said, ‘We wish to inform to Australians, especially those who use these brand companies’ products to know about the Cambodian garment workers’ situation and take part in holding the brand companies accountable by asking them to commit to solve the current minimum wage campaign deadlock.’

The day after the fashion show, representatives of eight international brands met with Cambodian Government officials in Phnom Penh to discuss the garment workers’ demands. In a positive step, the brand representatives affirmed their support for a higher minimum wage for garment workers.

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