8 November 2016.
Phnom Penh – The Royal Government of Cambodia (the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Labour), the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and Better Factories Cambodia – a partnership between the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group – have signed a the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to improve working conditions and boost competitiveness in Cambodia’s garment industry.
The MoU will see the partnership extended for three years, covering a period from January 2017 to December 2019, during which the partners have committed to increasing collaboration to improve the working conditions and boost the competitiveness of the garment sector and build the institutional sustainability of the programme. Cambodian constituents have agreed to contribute approximately 25% to the BFC budget over the next three years, while international garment buyers sourcing from Cambodia who use the ILO Better Factories Cambodia programme assessment reports and factories that participate in BFC training courses will contribute to programme operation based on fees for services rendered.
The BFC program will continue to perform assessments on the working conditions in garment factories based on Cambodian Labour Law and internationally recognised core labour standards and to report on its findings publicly by detailing compliance and non-compliance of individual factories. Advisory and training activities on workplace improvement and productivity enhancement will continue to operate regularly on a fee for service basis. BFC will also work with the Ministry of Labour on the implementation of a joint strategy and action plan with the objective to support government’s capacity and ownership to uphold compliance with labour law and support remediation in the garment and/or other sectors as appropriate.
During a recent conference with partners to mark fifteen years of work and partnership in the garment sector, the consensus among policymakers was that an extended partnership would continue to improve working conditions while consolidating the competitiveness of the garment industry.
“BFC has played a key role in the growth of the industry and the improvement of working conditions,” said the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, H.E. Ith SamHeng. He added that under the new MoU, BFC and the MOLVT would step up collaboration on workplace inspection and enforcement of the labour law. While the Minister of Commerce, H.E Pan Sorasak, commended Better Factories Cambodia, for its pioneering contributions to the advancement of labour rights and the growth of the industry, ”the new MoU will see our continued financial support and increased collaboration with our partners, including the transfer of knowledge on labour inspection to officials of the Minister of Labour and Vocational training to ensure we keep abreast of current and future opportunities and challenges in the sector,” the Minister of Commerce, H.E. Pan Sorasak.
“Cambodia’s garment sector has been essential for the country’s economic growth and for improved livelihoods. Renewed commitment from the government and GMAC to work with BFC to further improve working conditions and competitiveness in the sector is crucial in ensuring the sector unlocks its full potential, delivering better jobs, more income and increased development of the country,” commented David Lamotte, Deputy Director for the ILO Asia and the Pacific.
GMAC recognises BFC as an essential component of the government’s policy that helped boost exports, said GMAC Chairman Mr Van Sou Ieng, while appealing to brands to commit to this programme, to continue buying from Cambodia and to pay fair prices.
The MOU has been renewed five times by the signing parties since the ILO-BFC programme began in 2001.