Cambodia was the next poverty stricken nation that Timmerman visited. After a communist insurgency, NGOs and humanitarians flooded the country and replaced communist farms with garment factories. Now many garments, which are shipped all over the world, are made in Cambodia.
Most of the people that work in these factories are young women, sent away from their homes to work and send back money to support their large families. Although conditions are not ideal, NGOs and humanitarians are working to protect workers’ rights. The International Labor Organization is working hard in Cambodia to help protect workers, big brand images, and consumers’ conscience.
Timmerman explains that with companies looking to create garments as inexpensively as possible, many are outsourcing to China. China has better developed roads and transportation systems than most developing nations and a huge supply of cheap labor, making it very attractive to companies looking to manufacture goods at the lowest possible price. However, in China, workers have no labor rights and NGOs are not allowed in the country.
Workers work an incredible amount of hours every week and are rarely compensated fairly. One of the factory workers that Timmerman spoke with explained that many times workers are told to clock out and then come back to work- if they refuse they loose their job and their livelihood. As in the previous cases, workers send their earnings back to their families far away in the villages. Much of the Chinese population has been lifted out of poverty in this way, but they still do not enjoy the rights that many often take for granted.