Three of the first 10 garment factories that Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) revealed in March to be in “low compliance” when it comes to working conditions have improved enough to be taken off that list, according to the industry monitor’s latest data.
After years of compiling monitoring reports that were not publicly released, BFC, an International Labour Organization initiative, took the first step in making its data available online in March.
Ten factories received the lowest rating at that time, a figure that now stands at nine, thanks to improvements at some factories and a deterioration of conditions at others, data released yesterday shows.
BFC yesterday increased its total database to include 91 more factories, which means it now rates 152 factories on issues ranging from freedom of association and compliance with payment laws to emergency exits and evacuation drills.
“I would say [there are] just a whole range of health and safety issues: heat, improper chemical safety, [unsafe] equipment,” said Jill Tucker, BFC’s chief technical adviser.
While Kavotex Cambodia is the only factory that BFC found was lacking a sufficient fire exit, 10 factories locked emergency exits during working hours. A total of 31 factories did not hold emergency evacuation drills at least every six months. A BFC report released in April last year said only 57 per cent of factories profiled had clear fire exits.
A high turnover rate in employees at Cambodia’s garment factories makes these regular drills essential, BFC spokesman Tivea Koam said yesterday.
“A lot of workers come and go, so a lot of workers are new,” Koam said. “So it’s important … workers know where to go when there’s nowhere to run or nowhere to escape.”
The update also showed some improvement in the areas of discrimination against workers and unions.
Kin Tai Garment Co was the only factory profiled to discriminate against unions.