The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday hitting back at comments from a union official who criticized its new Garment Training Institute.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, in an article in the Daily on Tuesday, questioned GMAC’s use of loans from the French Development Agency (AFD) while charging students a fee to attend classes.
In Wednesday’s statement, GMAC said Mr. Thorn’s comments were “very negative thinking and baseless considering he did not find out at all about the real purpose, procedures, functioning and management of the project.”
GMAC went on to say all “procurement procedures” for the AFD loan were followed strictly.
“The requirement to pay tuition fees is inevitable to ensure the sustainability of this institute and the tuition fees are set by experts following a clear survey,” the statement read.
Reached on Wednesday, Mr. Thorn stood by his Monday comments and described the GMAC statement as an “overreaction.”
“What I said is only based on what I think, and I am concerned that the institute is becoming a profit-making entity, which does not meet the ultimate goal for improving human capital by the AFD,” he said.
“I think their comment is not proper, and this is why it is hard for factory owners to build relations with workers,” he said.
The institute, which held its first classes on Monday, aims to improve the capacity of the country’s garment workforce through courses on apparel design, development, management, merchandising and industry engineering.
GMAC said it is hoping it will serve as part of the solution to the “skills gap” that exists in one of Cambodia’s most important industries.