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H&M under fire for 'low' Cambodia wages

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H&M under fire for 'low' Cambodia wages
08:16 CEST+02:00
Swedish clothes giant H&M has been accused of using suppliers in Cambodia that underpay their textile workers. But the company counters the workers have unions and collective agreements.

TV4 documentary Kalla Fakta (The Cold Facts) claims in a report that Cambodian employees of H&M suppliers are only paid 3 kronor ($0.45) an hour.

When asked about the reported low wages, H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson argued the situation would have been much worse had the company not been present in the country.

“There are unions in Cambodia and collective agreements that actually work," Persson told Kalla Fakta.

Deuar Sophon, a mother of three, works some 70 hours a week at a Cambodia textile factory which manufactures clothes for several companies, including Swedish H&M.

On the TV4 programme, which will be broadcast on Wednesday night at 9.30pm, she explained that her monthly salary amounts to around 500 kronor, a sum not sufficient to feed and house her family.

“The constant worry is making me sick, I don't know where I'll get money from,“ Sophon said on the show.

According to the TV4 report, many textile workers are also forced to borrow money for food, leading to considerable debts with high interest.

At the factory where Sophon works, 250 workers fainted during two days last year.

In an H&M report, cited by Kalla Fakta, the company says it was overtime and lack of food that caused the workers to collapse.

The show also claimed that the low wages lead to many being forced to take risks with their personal safety by packing themselves onto overfilled trucks in order to get to and from work, sometimes sharing space with some 60 other workers to one truck.

H&M CEO Persson admitted that the situation "could be better".

"But it is a question of the country's ability to compete on an international market and the best thing for them is if we continue to buy from the country," he told Kalla Fakta.

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