The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia project and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia yesterday urged garment and footwear factory owners to review building structures in the wake of collapses that have killed two and injured almost 40 this month.
In a joint statement, the organisations said the ceiling collapse at Wing Star Shoes that killed a 15-year-old girl and a man on May 16 and a bridge collapse at Top World garment last Monday were “devastating and unprecedented”.
“We believe that it is in the interest of all to take steps to prevent more such accidents happening in the garment and footwear industry,” the statement says.
“We are strongly advising a structural review of all buildings in all garment and footwear factories in Cambodia.”
Even though structural problems had not been common in the Kingdom’s factories, worker safety and the industry’s integrity need to be protected, the statement said.
“We urge you to be mindful of our recommendation on this issue and begin the process of implementing a structural review in your factory as soon as possible.”
Following the collapse at Wing Star – a supplier to Japanese-owned footwear giant Asics – other factory owners have already reviewed the safety of their buildings, said Wu Minghuor, manager of the Tai Yang and Camwell factories in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district.
“We always think about workers’ safety,” he said. “So we’re not worried about experts coming and checking our factories.
“Actually, last week the ILO and [buyer] Gap came down to check. They asked us to put more paint on a wall. We’ve done that already.”
The Wing Star collapse prompted Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng to promise widespread factory inspections.
“We will create an inspection committee to investigate all the factories in the country . . . and the inspection committee will have [inspections every] month, three months and in special cases,” he said on the day of the collapse.
Additional reporting by Mom Kunthear