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'Labour compliance has improved in garment units' - ILO
20
Dec '08
The International Labour Organization's (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia released its "21st Synthesis Report on Working Conditions in Cambodia's Garment Sector," which assesses compliance with Cambodian labour law and international labour standards in garment factories.

The 21st Synthesis Report is the fifth synthesis report to be issued using the automated Information Management System (IMS) for collecting and storing monitoring data and producing reports.

The Synthesis Report contains a wealth of information, including findings on compliance with fundamental rights and selected working conditions. Data is displayed in easy-to-read tables and graphs.

The synthesis report confirms that the joint efforts by the Royal Government of Cambodia through its Ministries of Labour and Commerce, the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and Trade Unions to progressively improve working conditions in the garment sector continue to positively impact labour standards.

Although some areas of concern remain, particularly regarding freedom of association and discrimination, for several years now there has been consistent improvement in working conditions.

The garment sector's economic outlook is currently overshadowed by the global economic slowdown, and the industry faces multiple challenges to preserve its market share and to survive a period of reduced orders. The financial crisis has prompted a 3.1% decline in apparel imports to the US so far this year through September.

During a recent Cambodian buyers forum where key international brands convened to discuss the Better Factories programme and industry outlook, the brands present stated that they remain committed to the principles of responsible production. In their opinion, Cambodia has many advantages over its competitors, one of them being the reputation for good labour standards, but Cambodia also needs to do more in the area of industrial relations, governance and infrastructure.

Industry representatives also recently voiced their concerns about the price of doing business, while trade unions see a considerable increase in rush work leading to demands for more overtime and subcontracting.

Its is clear that industry actors must heed the Government's calls, made during the 14th private sector forum in November, for greater collaboration to increase productivity and preserve industrial peace, if the Cambodian garment industry can hope to ride out the economic storm without significant negative impacts on its business performance or the 350,000 strong export garment industry work force.

The ILO and its Better Factories Cambodia programme will continue to work with their partners during this difficult period in order to assist the industry to preserve the gains it has made over the past several years in improving working conditions. Greater emphasis will be placed on dispute prevention, workplace cooperation, and capacity building, while also working with the Government, buyers, unions and manufacturers in promoting better productivity and appropriate cost saving measures.

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