Fraying fabric

US$150 a month. 30 hours of overtime.

Chhim is a native of Svay Rieng province that borders Vietnam. In 2011, he moved to Phnom Penh in search for work and joined a Korean garment manufacturer that manufactures for Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, American Eagle Outfitters, Wal-Mart and Victoria’s Secret.

Due to the low minimum wages, Chhim and several thousand other garment workers in Phnom Penh staged a demonstration. The government agreed to increase the minimum wages to $100, from $80, but still far short of the $160 that was demanded for 2014. This sector has some of the lowest industrial wages in the region.

As a result of this demonstration, Chhim, and many others were beaten by the military and jailed for five months.

- adapted from Forbes Asia, September 2014

I have been in the supply chain arena for a number of years. Stories such as those of Chhim usually become a topic of discussion in my classes to bring forth what large organisations want us to see (the product) and what we should really be looking at (the supply chain).

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