4 December 2018.
Phom Penh – Public reporting on key labour standards and conditions in the garment industry has seen significant improvement in labour standards compliance in important areas, according a new report released today. Using data from 464 assessment visits, Better Factories Cambodia’s 35th Annual Report provides insight into trends in compliance and working conditions in Cambodia’s exporting garment and footwear sector.
This year’s report, which covered the period 1 May 2017 to 30 June 2018, showed the overall number of violations on 21 critical issues fell from 811 in 2014, when public reporting was reintroduced, to 631 in the current reporting period. Over the same time, the proportion of factories in compliance with all publicly reported issues rose from 32 percent to 41 percent.
However, the report notes that not all areas have shown progress. While critical issues relating to such areas emergency preparedness, discrimination, child labour and payment of wages and allowances have shown steady gains, other areas are stable and some have declined in rates of compliance.
“Continued effort from all partners to drive sustainable change in the industry is still required,” said Esther Germans, BFC Programme Manager. “It’s important as its improvements in working conditions in factories that have played an integral role in the growth of the sector to date, creating Cambodia’s reputation as an ethical sourcing destination,” she added.
This year’s report analyses the root causes preventing factories to sustainably increase health and safety for their workers. Non-compliance levels in the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) area remain at a high 34.7 percent and factories where all OSH requirements are implemented are still the exception, not only in Cambodia but throughout the global garment industry. The report demonstrates links between factories with higher levels of non-compliance and a lack strong OSH management systems.
The report also notes that through its advisory services, BFC is continuing to support factories in strengthening their OSH systems.
Other important areas of noncompliance include on issues around leave and compensation. Noncompliance rates on contract issues have increased with problems identified both in specifying terms and conditions and ensuring that workers understand them.
The Garment Industry in Cambodia
The garment sector remains at the heart of the Cambodian economy, generating 73 per cent of export earnings and formally employing more than 650,000 Cambodians, the majority of them women. Garment workers earn a living for themselves and they support others, helping to ensure improved living conditions, health and education for their family members. It is estimated that each garment worker supports another three to four family members and as such two million Cambodians depend on the garment sector for their livelihoods.
Ensuring that there is a culture of compliance in the sector, where workers feel safe, healthy and respected, is vital for productive workplaces and for the overall social and economic development of Cambodia. Creating this culture of compliance will be BFC’s focus with its partners during its next strategic phase.