Occupational safety a concern in Cambodia's garment factories – UN report

17 August 2011

Although compliance by Cambodian exporting garment factories with national and international labour standards is generally good, areas such as discrimination and occupational safety and health remain a concern, according to a new United Nations report.

The report on working conditions in Cambodia’s Garment Sector was released today in the capital, Phnom Penh, by the UN International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia programme.

It reflects data compiled over a six-month period from November 2010 to April 2011 from 186 of the 276 factories registered with the programme, which was set up in 2001.

“Compliance levels generally remain high, although some areas of concern remain, particularly regarding discrimination, overtime, and occupational safety and health,” stated a news release issued by the programme.

Monitors found no evidence of forced labour and no workers were confirmed to be below the legal working age of 15. Compliance with minimum wage requirements for regular workers is still high at 97 per cent, although this is down slightly from 99 per cent in the previous report.

Among the report’s other findings is that 76 per cent of the factories monitored have at least one union, up three per cent from the previous report, and the percentage of factories that discriminated against workers is at 13 per cent, up from eight per cent in the last report.

In addition, compliance with maternity leave payments rose by 18 per cent, to 73 per cent, while compliance with paid sick leave dropped by two per cent, to 77 per cent.

Two per cent fewer employers provided their employees sufficient personal protective equipment, while eight per cent fewer workers had properly functioning needle guards on their sewing machines, according to the report.

Data from Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce shows that 324,476 workers were employed in 286 registered exporting garment factories from January to June 2011. Also, garment exports rose by 32 per cent in the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period of 2010.

Better Factories Cambodia monitors and reports on working conditions in Cambodian garment factories according to national and international standards, and helps factories to improve working conditions and productivity.

 

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