Empowering Garment Workers in Cambodia


We’ve just finished a training program
that we’ve been running with garment workers in Cambodia. It’s really derived
from research I’ve been doing about the garment industry especially Cambodia as
a place of production and my research really uncovered the fact that workers
are really invisible within the system and that there was so much potential to
develop their capacity to deal with some of the really complex problems in the
industry. I got an introduction to an amazing woman at one of the unions and
she introduced me to workers and that’s when I really realized that that was a
way that we could possibly intervene in the system to work with them directly. We
could both see the strength and the value of working together and
collaborating and they were really keen to do stuff around capacity-building. You
know the union leaders have that responsibility to the workers where they
want to solve the issues but they also just lack that capacity to be able to do
it and yes so the response just ends up being a strike. So that was one real
barrier that we had to overcome with them and sort of teaching them to look
at things in a different way. To consider perspectives, to learn what
stakeholders were, to learn about the law before they’re striking. So really teaching
those skills. We’ve introduced material that I guess you could probably call it
is quite innovative and very different to what has been done especially in
Cambodia before. The people we were teaching they’re in their 30s, their 40s, they’re
adults, they deal with really tough problems every day. They have the
capacity to work out these problems but they just don’t have the systems and the
training of those systems to be able to work them out properly. Once we gave them
the systems I think they shocked themselves really that they could work through them so well. It’s amazing how far they came in such a limited
amount of time. Yeah, there was so much enthusiasm for learning and just wanting
to know more all the time and that was, I think, one of the most rewarding parts
about it because it wasn’t just responding well to the material it was
like really understanding the power of learning and the power of what they’s learnt
and they just kind of kept saying well can we get more can we do more because
they can see that it really makes a difference. We went to one of the workers
houses and she almost had us in tears because she was…
We had a couple of moments.
Yeah we had a couple of moments. Trying to make us cry. Because she was sitting down explaining it all to her
family and to her nieces and she was, you know, using all the tools using all the
images and you know sharing it and she just said this is so amazing. Like I’m
gonna share this with all the other workers and I’ve got a really clear idea
of things now.

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