Garment factory strikes occur almost daily in Phnom Phen, the capitol of Cambodia. Workers
complain of forced and unpaid overtime, discrimination against union leaders and
The nation's fledgling labor rights movement received a major morale boost in late 1998
when the United States and Cambodia reached a historic trade agreement. Cambodia could
increase its garment exports to the U.S. if the government showed progress in enforcing its
labor laws and abiding by international labor standards. As part of the agreement, the
International Labor Organization set up an independent monitoring program to review factory
conditions and publish their findings.
American Jason Judd is among the international observers who moved to Cambodia to make a
difference during this crucial period in its industrialization. Today, at age 29, he runs
the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center in Phnom Phen, where he educates Cambodian workers about
their rights and trains them to form strong, independent labor unions. In "Planet Work 1,"
Livelyhood meets Jason and his Cambodian colleagues as they strive to make a
difference in global working conditions.
"What happens here in this part of the world in the next ten years is important for the rest of
the world," explains Jason, who has also organized garbage workers in New Orleans and
congregations in South Texas. "The work is coming here. The money is coming here.
That means the power is coming here. And if the workers don't have any,
they're going to suffer mightily."
More unions with U.S. hands across the water
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