A new report - 10 Years of the Better Factories Cambodia Project: A critical evaluation - has been released by Clean Clothes Campaign and Community Legal Education Center. Started in 2001, the goal of the Better Factories program is to improve the working conditions in Cambodian factories and end sweat-shop production.The report discusses the BFC's achievements and limitations from a worker rights' perspective.
2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) project in Cambodia. The overarching goal of the BFC is to gradually improve the working conditions of factories in Cambodia and ultimately increase production of sweat-shop-free goods.
CCC and Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) conclude that Cambodian labour rights organisations consider the BFC as a positive development, though working conditions in Cambodia's garment industry remain very poor generally.
'The real wages workers receive have actually declined 14 per cent since 2000 in relation to inflation rates. In other words, garment workers have become poorer since the Better Factories Cambodia program was launched. The ILO should do more to keep global buyers like H&M or GAP accountable for poverty wages,' says Dr. Jeroen Merk, Research Coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign.
Tola Moeun, Head of Labor Program of the Community Legal Education Center adds: ' The last two weeks of August we have seen three instances of mass fainting at a factory supplying H&M. Poor health, working days of up to 13 hours and low wages are the main causes for fainting. This BFC-monitored factory illustrates the importance to follow up on our recommendations'.
formulates recommendations around six areas where the BFC program could be improved: promoting sanctions for factories violating labour laws; increasing union involvement; expanding its scope to subcontracted factories; improving the monitoring process; improving transparency; and, finally, taking the responsibilities of buyers seriously.
CCC and CLEC believe that addressing these issues will help achieving the BFC's goal, which is to improve working conditions in the Cambodian garment industry.
Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)