Better Factories Cambodia has found that more and more factories in the country are complying with its standards when dealing with critical worker issues after it began conducting studies on factory compliance.
These critical issues include child labour, discrimination, forced labour and freedom of association.
BFC released its annual report on “Industry and Compliance Review” yesterday. The report highlights BFC’s survey findings conducted at 464 factories from May 2017 until June of this year.
BFC found that compliance of factories has increased from 33 percent last year to 44 percent this year after it introduced public reporting in 2014.
“BFC reintroduced transparent reporting in 2014 as part of a strategy to accelerate industry progress by publicly reporting on factory compliance,” the report said.
The report noted that incidents of underage workers in the garment sector has declined from 74 cases in 2014 to just ten cases during the latest report period.
“The majority of the non-compliance cases were related to discrimination on grounds of gender,” the report said. “Twelve forced labour related practices were found in nine out of the 464 factories assessed.”
“Freedom of association and collective bargaining cluster have gone up slightly, especially around union operations,” it added. “In this reporting period, freedom of association and collective bargaining non-compliance instances were recorded in 155 of the 464 factories assessed.”
In a statement, The Project Advisory Committee which comprise of government representatives, GMAC and Union representatives appealed to the international community to continue to support Cambodia as it is “crucial for ensuring the continuous improvement of the working conditions”.
“We strongly appeal to the international community to continue its support to Cambodia, in terms of market access and trade preference, in particular the maintaining of the [Everything-but-arms] status for Cambodia,” said the Project Advisory Committee. “This is crucial for ensuring the continuous improvement of the working conditions and as a result, an important socio and economic development for Cambodian workers.”
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday said the government will continue to promote the rights of garment workers.
“The ministry will increase inspection of factories that violate the rights of workers and fine them for not obeying the law,” Mr Sour said. “We will have our working group take care of them so that the country’s garment sector can be better.”
Far Saly, president of the National Trade Union Coalition, yesterday said working conditions for garment workers have steadily improved over the last few years.
“I recognise that working conditions of workers are getting better, but union freedom is still restricted,” Mr Saly said. “Unions help workers get help. If the government doesn’t take unions seriously, I think that working conditions will degrade.”