WRC Trip to Thailand and Cambodia, Participation Welcome
December 19, 2007
This spring semester, the WRC is planning a trip for interested representatives of our affiliate universities to travel to Thailand and Cambodia to visit apparel factories and meet with garment workers, factory managers, government representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Thailand and Cambodia visit will be the second installment in a regular program of WRC university trips to apparel-exporting countries – the first was our visit last April to El Salvador.
The trip will provide university administrators with an opportunity to learn about labor rights field work directly from factory managers, workers, and representatives of civil society organizations. Participation is open to administrators at all WRC affiliate schools. We hope you will consider joining us.
Below, please find more information about the trip, including a rough itinerary, estimated costs, and travel logistics.
We will set the dates for the trip based on the availability of those interested in participating. If you are interested in the trip, please contact my colleague Theresa Haas at email@example.com or by phone at the WRC office at 202-387-4884 and let her know your availability between February 15 and March 15. It is not necessary at this time to make a firm commitment to participating, but we would like to have a sense of the level of interest as well as the time frame that is preferable for those who may participate. We will need to finalize the dates no later than mid-January, so please let us know as soon as possible if you think you would like to join the trip.
The WRC has an extensive network of relationships with civil society organizations around the world and we currently employ field staff in seven countries. The goal of these WRC trips is to provide opportunities for administrators from affiliate schools, who are leaders on code of conduct issues, to take advantage of these resources and to hear from workers, factory managers, and labor rights leaders what it is like to be “on-the-ground” in places where university apparel is produced. For reference, I have attached a summary of last year’s El Salvador trip that was circulated by trip participants after they returned.
Thailand and Cambodia are both important suppliers of university logo apparel and are currently the site of a significant amount of ongoing code enforcement work. Our meetings and factory visits will provide useful insight into working conditions and labor rights issues in these two countries, which are similar in important ways to conditions throughout the global apparel industry, but where workers also face challenges particular to the Southeast Asian context. Our meetings and discussions will include a focus on efforts to improve respect for labor rights in the region.
Trip Schedule and Travel Logistics
The trip will take place either in the second half of February or the first half of March (major holidays in both countries will make it difficult to arrange the necessary meetings any later than March 15). The total length of the trip will be 7 or 8 days, including travel time from the U.S. This will include 4 to 5 days of meetings and factory visits in Bangkok and Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital city), with 2 to 3 days for travel. Schedules permitting, there may also be opportunities for some sightseeing in both cities. Of course, participants will also be welcome to add days at the front or back end of the trip for sightseeing purposes, and WRC staff will be happy to assist with logistics and recommendations.
Participants will fly from the U.S. to Bangkok, arriving no later than the evening prior to our first day of meetings. Because Bangkok is twelve hours ahead of East Coast time in the U.S., and because non-stop flights from the U.S. to Bangkok take around 18 hours, the total calendar time to fly from here to there is 30 to 36 hours, depending on flight schedules. For example, there is a non-stop flight available from New York to Bangkok that leaves at 11:35 am and arrives at 5 pm the following day. For those closer to the West coast, there is a non-stop flight from Los Angeles leaving at 9:30 pm and arriving at 6:30 am two days later; it is also possible to travel through Tokyo, Hong Kong or Seoul, leaving the Midwest or West coast in the morning and arriving in the late evening on the following day. Due to the time difference, the return trip takes far less calendar time (a full 24 hours less), allowing most travelers to arrive home the same day they leave. Participants have the option of arranging their own flights or working with the WRC’s travel agent. All other aspects of the trip – hotel reservations, airport transfers, travel to and from meetings, meals, translation, etc. – will be coordinated by the WRC.
Itinerary and Budget
The approximate cost per person for the entire trip will be between $2,000 and $2,800, including airfare, hotels, meals, ground transportation, and visa costs. The major variable is airfare, which will depend on the point of origin and fare availability. While in Thailand and Cambodia, we will visit at least one factory in each country, have at least two extensive off-site discussions with workers, and meet with several labor rights NGOs. The exact schedule of meetings for the trip will be developed once the dates are finalized, but we have included here the basic daily itinerary and an estimated budget to give you a sense of the logistics.
Day 1: Leave U.S.
Day 2: Arrive in Bangkok in the afternoon or evening
Day 3: Orientation/Meetings and activities in Bangkok
Day 4: Meetings and activities in Bangkok
Day 5: Fly to Phnom Penh / Meetings and activities in Phnom Penh
Day 6: Meetings and activities in Phnom Penh
Day 7: Depart for U.S.
(Depending on the preferences of participants, we may extend this schedule by one day, in order to add an additional day of meetings in Bangkok)
Budget (per person)
|Round trip airfare, U.S. to Bangkok||$950 – $1,750|
|Round trip airfare, Bangkok to Phnom Penh||$350|
|Hotel (5-6 nights)||$400|
|Visa and airport tax costs||$75|
|Total||$2,000 – $2,800|