PHNOM PENH, Apr. 29 (Khmer Times) – To mark International Labor Day on May 1, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said they were committed to “maintaining a high level of labor and social compliance.”
In a press release, GMAC claimed Cambodia “continues to be recognized as a pioneer in setting standards for labor and social compliance and the ground breaking initiative of linking trade to labor standards is currently being emulated by other apparel-producing countries all over the world.”
Their statement comes as numerous reports documenting the widespread rights abuses of GMAC and other factories have been released by a variety of human rights groups.
The garment sector is by far Cambodia’s largest sector and employer, accounting for more than 15 percent of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product.
Their statement continued, saying, “In Cambodia, only employees in the garment and foot wear industry are guaranteed a minimum wage and other legally mandated allowances such as the attendance bonus and housing/ transport allowance. Together with other performance based erring possibility and bonuses make Cambodia’s garment workers some of the most well-paid in the region by sector.”
GMAC said they were “pleased to work alongside other stakeholders including the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the Internal Labor Organization (ILO) as well as trade unions,” yet the ILO and many trade unions are locked in constant battles with GMAC over workers’ rights, factory regulations and an increased minimum wage.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said, “so far the GMAC has discriminated against unionists. Many garment factories violate workers’ rights.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) did an in-depth study of Cambodia’s garment industry in March, uncovering widespread abuse, discrimination and lawlessness.
HRW discovered that even the government department created to regulate the industry was mired in widespread corruption and graft.
In spite of this, many unions are willing to work with GMAC to resolve the persistent problems being uncovered within the garment manufacturing industry.
“We welcome GMAC and their willingness to cooperate with the trade unions and the ILO in order to improve working standard and respect the code of conduct of the worker,” Mr. Mony said.