Cambodia: Better Factories Cambodia report raises need to build new mechanisms for accountability & transparency, despite improving conditions in factories

Author: Skylar Lindsay, ASEAN Today, Published on: 7 January 2019

"Cambodian garment factories improve conditions but rights violations continue," 07 January 2019

A recent survey by UN initiative Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) shows that conditions in the country’s garment factories are improving. But the sheer number of rights violations that still occur make it clear that garment companies need to build new mechanisms for accountability and transparency.

The monthly minimum wage for garment factory workers in Cambodia is now US$170, up from $100 in 2014...

The BFC report found that compliance had improved for international laws around overtime wages, discriminations against employees, child labour, routine evacuation drills, and reprisals for union membership. The survey considered 21 critical issues and found that 44% of factories were fully compliant with international labour standards and national labour laws for these areas, up from 33% during their previous survey.

The actual working conditions also appear to still threaten the health of workers. According to the Cambodian government’s own statistics, over 2000 workers fainted in 2018 in just 16 factories that were surveyed...

In terms of child labour, the survey found only 11 violations of international child labour laws among 600,000 workers, far fewer than the 74 violations found in 2014. But there’s a good chance that children have simply stopped working in the licensed factories, working at home or with subcontractors instead.

...[T]he BFC survey was only able to look at licensed garment export factories. In Cambodia, 85% of the population still works in the informal economy.


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