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Cablegate: Embassy Phnom Penh's Nomination for the International Woman

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPF #0861 3010555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270555Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0026

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000861

SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR G/IWI, DRL/ILCSR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN KPAO PREL PHUM ELAB
SUBJECT: EMBASSY PHNOM PENH'S NOMINATION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL WOMAN
OF COURAGE AWARD

1. Embassy Phnom Penh is proud to nominate Sam Sreymom for the
International Woman of Courage Award. Charge d'Affaires Piper
Campbell oversaw the nomination process which proved to be difficult
this year considering the number of Cambodian activists that have
received regional and international attention for their work. Word
of Ms. Sreymom's accomplishments have not yet traveled beyond the
borders of her country, although she is well known amongst her
peers. The Embassy is thrilled to have this opportunity to
recognize her work and her courage through this nomination.

Name: Sam Sreymom
Job Title: Vice President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the
Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)
DOB: June 5, 1979
COB: Cambodia
Citizenship: Cambodia
Address: #16A, Street 376, Sangkat Boeung Kang III, Khan Chamcar
Mon, Phnom Penh
Telephone: 012 212 812
E-mail address: sreymom@ftuwkc.org
Passport number: N0300705

2. Award justification: Sam Sreymom is one of Cambodia's leading
labor advocates, working as vice president of the Free Trade Union
of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) since 2003. In
particular, she serves the interests and protects the rights of
Cambodia's estimated 350,000 garment and shoe industry workers, of
whom more than 90 percent are women.

In a field dominated by men, where only 6 of the roughly 90 labor
union leaders are women, Sam Sreymom has been a formidable
negotiator on behalf of garment factory workers in labor disputes
with management. She also represents union members of the FTUWKC
when cases appear at the country's labor Arbitration Council. Sam
Sreymom has received several arrest threats for her role organizing
and participating in workers' rights protests against factory
management. With high inflation afflicting workers in early 2008,
Sam Sreymom was instrumental in organizing union federations to
lobby the government and employers to increase wages. Partially due
to her efforts, the government added a mandatory cost of living
increase of $6 for garment and shoe workers in April 2008.

Sam Sreymom stands out for her labor advocacy philosophy to exhaust
all negotiating possibilities before striking or protesting. She
has sat at negotiating tables with factory managers, government
officials, and International Labor Organization representatives.
Much of her focus has been on improving working standards for female
laborers such as allowing women to take maternity leave,
criminalizing sexual harassment, and providing toilet facilities.
She has been a champion for issues such as the prohibition of
anti-union discrimination and workplace education on HIV/AIDS. Her
efforts have directly contributed to factory condition improvements
such as increased ventilation, access to safe drinking water, and in
some factories the installation of medical and canteen facilities.

The garment and industrial sectors have played an important role in
the economic development of Cambodia in the past ten years. Labor
conditions and workers' rights have been a continuous issue of
contention for formerly impoverished Cambodians who are trying to
make a better living in the garment sector.

Sam Sreymom is active in other social sectors, especially the
protection of human rights, democracy and women's empowerment. In
December 2005, she joined with other civil society representatives
demanding the release of five prominent human rights activists
detained on defamation charges. The activists were released in
January 2006. Also in January 2006, Sam Sreymom led a march to the
site of the killing of prominent labor leader Chea Vichea. For her
activity, Sam Sreymom was threatened and also summoned for
questioning by Phnom Penh municipality government authorities.


3. The subject has been informed of her nomination.

CAMPBELL

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