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Labour conditions not deteriorating

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Garment workers protesting earlier this year.

Dear Editor,

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which represents all garment export-oriented factories, has read with grave concern The Phnom Penh Post’s article “Cambodians testify in US” (September 11).

In it, Mr Moeun Tola, the labour programme head of the Community Legal Action Centre, was quoted as saying that Cambodian labour conditions have deteriorated sharply in the last few years.

He went on to express concern for the security of union organisers in Cambodia and lack of minimum wage in the garment industry.
GMAC would like to totally object to the statement and consider it as publicly misleading.

Cambodia is the only country which has implemented a labour-linked trade policy, particularly in the garment industry.

With this, the labour conditions in the industry have been under strict monitoring by the International Labour Organisation-Better Factories Cambodia Project (ILO-BFC). BFC is a programme of the ILO, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations and is led by a Project Advisory Committee comprising representatives from the government, GMAC and Cambodian trade unions. Monitoring reports on all factories are posted on the ILO-BFC’s Web site, and synthesis reports on labour conditions in Cambodia are published every six months.

The allegation is baseless with no proper system to measure and is absolutely in contrast to the ILO-BFC’s monitoring reports, which have proved otherwise.

Over the past few years, labour conditions in the Cambodian garment industry have been constantly improving as clearly indicated by the reports, as well as statements made by the Project Advisory Committee, where the tripartite representatives sit.

As for union activities, Cambodia boasts full freedom of association in compliance with the international convention No 87 and guaranteed by our constitution.

Unofficial figures from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training suggested there are more than 1,000 unions in the garment industry of less than 300
factories where, on average, there are four unions per factory and some would have up to 10 unions.

The number is massive. Regarding wages, the industry currently has a minimum wage of US$50 (per month) plus other compulsory payments, ie: $6 cost-of-living allowance; $5 attendance bonus (provided there is no absence/tardiness during the month) and $5 cap seniority bonus ($2 after the first year and $1 additional every subsequent year). We now hope the public is informed.

GMAC
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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