Garment Factories Commit to Boost Vigilance on Child Labor

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) will on Thursday sign an agreement to work with the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia program to stamp out the use of child labor in the garment sector, the organizations announced Tuesday.

Van Sou Ieng, the chairman of GMAC, which represents the country’s 500 exporting garment factories, said in a statement that the group already has a “zero tolerance policy” on child labor.

“This agreement further solidifies our commitment and provides a positive remediation for those underage workers that slip through the crack and are found working in our member factories,” he said.

However, child labor remains a problem both in the garment sector and beyond.

Last year, the ILO said more than 10 percent of the 430,000 Cambodian children between the ages of 5 and 17 could be defined as child laborers.

Yim Pichmalika, senior program officer for Better Factories, said yesterday that monitors taking random samples of the country’s garment factories have found fewer cases of child labor this year than last—34 cases compared to 67.

David Welsh, country director for the Solidarity Center, a U.S.-based labor rights group, said efforts to eradicate child labor often ignore the fact that special rules for teenagers aged 15 to 17, who are legally allowed to work under the Labor Law, were regularly flaunted by employers.

“None of these [areas] are really regulated, and that’s where most of the abuses occur,” he said.

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