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ILO helps improve Cambodian garment factory conditions

March 18, 2014 (Cambodia)

The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) launches its online transparency database showing how individual garment factories measure up on key working conditions.
 
One third of the 51 factories included in the ‘Critical Issues’ database made improvements on 21 basic legal requirements in anticipation of their inclusion in this initial report. The total number of Critical Issues violations in this group of factories fell from 59 to 34 between December 2013 and February 2014—a 42% improvement. 
 
A smaller group of 15 factories in the database (29%) were already in compliance on all 21 of the basic legal requirements included in the Critical Issues category. Another 15 factories made verifiable improvements between December 2013 and February 2014 in order to move into this group, for a total of 30 factories (59%) with no violations of the Critical Issues. 
 
“We are happy to see that improvements are being made and that the transparency database is now launched. This shows that the government and the industry of Cambodia recognize the increasing importance of transparency and how this can accelerate improvements across the whole garment sector in Cambodia”, says Anna Gedda, Social Sustainability Manager at H&M.
 
Improvements on two key measures since BFC’s July 2013 synthesis report on working conditions help to illustrate the initial impact of transparent reporting on working conditions:
-Factories conducting emergency evacuation drills rose from 55% to 77%. 
-Proper payment of seniority-related benefits increased from 71% to 94%.  
 
For factories with the lowest compliance levels—those falling two standard deviations below the mean for compliance—Better Factories Cambodia has created a Low Compliance category. One of the eleven factories in this group made 18 verifiable improvements in recent months and, as a result, has moved off the Low Compliance list. 
 
BFC’s Technical Specialist, Jason Judd says: “The improvements are obviously good for workers, but good too for the factories that needed a new reason to meet these basic standards. The global garment industry needs more of this.”
 
Union compliance with legal requirements for strikes is also disclosed. None of the strikes conducted in the factories included in the March 2014 transparency database met legal requirements.
 
Compliance records on basic factory working conditions stand in stark contrast to the mass strikes over wage levels in late December 2013, the shooting and wounding of workers by security forces, the detention of wage protesters, and the inability of unions to secure registrations in 2014. These issues are not dealt with in this report as BFC’s monitoring measures factory-level compliance, and does not, for example, address the adequacy of wage levels.

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