Socially responsible garment factory Pactics celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, and about 500 people turned up for a tour of the premises, which have been designed to be as green and energy-efficient as possible.
The factory has been operating since last year, but with all buildings now completed it can accommodate 200 staff to produce 1.2 million sunglasses cloths a month for Luxottica, owners of Ray-Ban and Oakley.
With its emphasis on safe and pleasant working conditions, Pactics has garnered such a reputation that last month, when it needed to hire 40 more staff, over 200 candidates turned up.
“Our whole philosophy is built around corporate social responsibility,” says general manager Boris Ploum. “We see that as a competitive edge towards our customers, but also as an ethical obligation. We simply want to do this right.
“So for our staff, that means first of all a safe work environment and a decent salary. The garment industry is the only one that has a minimum wage in Cambodia, so we use that as a reference and pay more than the minimum wage.
“Then we do little things like provide our own filtered drinking water, we have a big generator in case of power cuts which runs on bio-fuel, and we’ve just started building parking for bicycles and mopeds, which will have a solar-panelled roof.”
The factory itself is unique – it’s designed with high ceilings and plenty of windows so there is a lot of light and roominess.
“We don’t need air-conditioning,” says Ploum. “The building is constructed in such a way that there is a lot of natural air flow. The hot air leaves the building and fresh air comes in. We add to that with a mister outside so we pull in colder air, so it naturally should stay cooler inside.”
The company has built a crèche for working mums, a small playground, plus a breast-feeding room and a first-aid room with plans to hire a full-time nurse. There will also soon be a kitchen with subsidised meals.
“We want to start cooking lunch for our staff, to make sure that at least once a day they have a full healthy meal,” says Ploum.
Ploum says within the next year and a half the company expects to double its staff, and is planning a training centre.
“We already have plans to build a new warehouse, and we also recently purchased land around here where we would like to build a training centre, a little pretentiously called Pactics University,” he says.