Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blaze a warning for Kingdom

Blaze a warning for Kingdom

Blaze a warning for Kingdom

2 bangladeshi woman
A Bangladeshi woman mourns as she holds the body of a relative who died in a fire in the nine-storey Tazreen Fashion plant in Savar, India, about 30 kilometres north of Dhaka on November 25. Reuters

A steep drop in Cambodian garment and footwear factory compliance with safety standards must be reversed to avoid disasters like the fire that killed more than 100 workers in Bangladesh in November, an International Labour Organization-Better Factories Cambodia  (BFC) report says.
In a decline of 30 per cent, only 57 per cent of factories profiled by BFC during its latest monitoring period had fire-access paths free of obstruction, according to the 29th Synthesis Report on Working Conditions in Cambodia’s Garment Sector, released yesterday.
“This report notes a worrisome decline in compliance in some key areas of occupational safety and health,” it says.
Jill Tucker, ILO-BFC chief technical adviser, said growth in the industry – 11 per cent in the first nine months of 2012 – could likely explain the finding.
“However, growth should not result in an increase in non-compliance among factories in an area as intrinsic to worker safety as having clear pathways,” she said. “Recent garment-sector fire tragedies in neighbouring countries demonstrate the great need for Cambodia to address this issue.”
Fire razed the Tazreen Fashion factory, a Walmart supplier, in Dhaka on November 24, killing 117 workers.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said many garment workers in Cambodia were at risk. “Most factories do not have fire-clear safety paths or signs,” he said. “The owners of the factories should clear all equipment blocking these paths, and authorities should monitor this.”
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said some factories had little regard for fire safety.
“Also, I’ve talked to workers who said they’ve never been trained in fire evacuation.”
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said, however, that each BFC synthesis report was conducted with a different set of factories.
“But we accept the reports, and we want to make sure our factories are complying with safety requirements. We want to ensure workers are safe.”
BFC assessed 136 factories from May 1 to October 31 last year. Other findings showed that 88 per cent of factories were exceeding the two-hour daily overtime limit and “no significant improvement in many of the compliance indicators thought to contribute to fainting incidents” had occurred.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • American convicted of raping boy, 10, in Siem Reap

    A 79-year-old American man was sentenced to one year in prison for raping a 10-year-old boy by Siem Reap Provincial Court on Wednesday. John Paul Zollbrecht, of Washington state, was sentenced to one year in prison while a Cambodian man who helped facilitate the abuse, 23

  • PM derides talk of government affairs, hinting phone records could reveal all

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday night told Cambodia’s starlets to either name their high-profile government lovers or keep quiet, telling a room full of journalists he did not want to be tarred with the same brush. Addressing more than 3,400 people at the second