The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has informed all its members that with immediate effect, Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) staff seeking access to garment factories for monitoring visits should be accompanied by officials of the Cambodian Government and/or possess letters from the Government authorizing such access to any factory.
However, GMAC members are free to exercise their discretion if they want to grant access to BFC monitors that arrive unaccompanied by relevant representatives of the Government, GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said in a statement.
“GMAC has been deeply involved with Better Factories Cambodia since its inception, both as a strategic partner, a constituent representing the interests of employers as well as contributing to the funding of this project. However, recent events pertaining to the approach taken by BFC to introduce a public disclosure program have raised doubts within GMAC if we are being treated as a true partner and given the respect that we deserve,” the statement said.
GMAC fully supports the push for greater transparency within the garment industry. However, it strongly opposes the fact that stakeholders are not given ample time and opportunity to provide feedback before the launch of public disclosure program, it added.
GMAC was informed that BFC intends to launch the initiative sometime during the week of September 17, 2013 despite GMAC’s repeated request for a pushback so as to allow ample time for more thorough discussion on how to best deal with the negative implications that might arise.
The need for further discussions was also expressed by Sat Samoth, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Labor and also the current chairman of the Project Advisory Committee of BFC. He said “If buyers have this information and they decide to cancel an order or put a sanction on a factory in Cambodia, it will have many drawbacks: The factory loses, the worker loses, Cambodia loses,” according to the statement.
GMAC said it would have been more logical for the BFC to have provided additional time for further discussions to try and address the concerns raised by stakeholders.