The International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) monitoring program is losing its relevance and effectiveness in ensuring better work and wage conditions, especially to garment workers, says a latest report.
The study ‘Monitoring in the Dark: An evaluation of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia monitoring and reporting program’ has been prepared by the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, in partnership with the Worker Rights Consortium.
For over a decade, the Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) factory monitoring program has supported Cambodia’s reputation as a success story in efforts to end sweatshop abuses. But the reputation increasingly has worn thin, as evidence emerges of the very significant labor rights problems that still plague the industry, says the report.
Based on in-country research and extensive interviews with stakeholders, the report details the continuing problems facing garment workers in Cambodia, from declining wages to union intimidation, and critically analyzes BFC’s current operating model.
It proposes a set of detailed recommendations for BFC to change its monitoring, reporting, and remediation practices, in order to improve labor conditions for Cambodia’s garment workers.
BFC was originally established to monitor Cambodia’s compliance with the 1999 US-Cambodia Textile and Apparel Trade Agreement (UCTA), which granted the country’s garment manufacturers expanded access to the lucrative American apparel market in return for improvements in the labor rights environment in their factories.
Since the phase-out of the import quota system in 2005, however, BFC’s role has changed to resemble more closely to that of most other factory auditing bodies: providing confidential factory monitoring reports to factory owners, and, on a for-pay basis, to international buyers, says the study.