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Garment workers sew items of apparel at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. The ILO will launch a quarterly news bulletin tomorrow, covering issues within the garment industry. Pha Lina

ILO launching new garment newsletter

The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday will launch a news bulletin focusing on Cambodia’s garment and shoe sector, aimed at providing data for Cambodian policymakers during annual minimum wage talks.

ILO officials intend on releasing the newsletter four times per year, in tandem with quarterly reports on the industry, Matthew Cowgill, an ILO chief technical adviser on labour standards in global supply chains, said yesterday.

“It covers issues such as exports, factory openings and closings, wages, growth . . . basic statistical information on the Cambodian garment and footwear sector,” Cowgill said.

“I guess the primary intended readership would be members of the [Ministry of Labour’s] Labour Advisory Committee [LAC], which deliberates [the] minimum wage each year.”

Release of the first edition – an eight-page English-language version and a 16-page Khmer version – will be marked on Thursday with a ceremony at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel, an ILO statement says.

While a limited amount of print editions will be circulated, Cowgill said, PDF files of the bulletin will also be available for free on the ILO’s website.

Optimistic about how the publication could help Labour Ministry officials, investors and manufacturers make informed decisions, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said the data can also benefit union members of the LAC.

“I encourage the members of the LAC, specifically the unions, to use it for minimum wage setting,” Tola said yesterday.

“The most important thing is access to information and transparent information that is accessible to the public.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, yesterday declined to comment about the bulletin, because he had not received any information about it.

Data that appear in the ILO’s bulletin will be sourced mainly from Cambodia’s National Institute of Statistics and the Ministry of Commerce, said Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour.

LAC officials use a number of different resources when considering the minimum wage each year, Sour said.

The newsletter will serve as a useful and unbiased source, which can help guide them, he added.

“I don’t think it will be leaning toward labour [interests]; we will also work with the ILO to review, so I think it will be fair,” Sour said of the bulletin.

“If they can publish it every quarter, that will be very helpful to the sector.”

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