Garment Factory Report Points to Infractions

Cambodia’s garment factories routinely shortchange their workers, force them to work overtime, neglect proper safety measures and hamper unionizing, a report by the International Labor Organ­ization suggests.

The survey of 65 factories, em­ploying more than 75,000 workers, is the fourth report on working conditions by the UN-affilia­ted body. The survey project be­gan after the US agreed to consider increasing its imports of Cam­bodian garments up to 18 percent if working conditions improved. The US is Cambodia’s biggest ex­port market.

As in previous reports, the au­thors found positive signs. There was no evidence of child labor or forced labor, and sexual harassment was rare. But other findings were more troubling:

• In 57 factories some workers were underpaid. Some were not paid properly for working overtime or at night. Others were not given mandatory bonuses for good attendance or seniority, among other violations.

• In 45 factories workers worked more than two hours a day of overtime “frequently/for several weeks or months in a row.” In 42 factories such overtime “was not…always voluntarily undertaken.” Labor law limits overtime work to two hours a day, and overtime work must al­ways be voluntary.

• Thirty-five factories do not offer paid sick leave, a violation of labor law. In 25 factories, workers said they are sometimes or al­ways forced to work during public holidays.

• Only 19 factories offered 90 days maternity leave, as required by law. Only four gave new mothers one hour off per day for breast-feeding, also required by law. Fifty-four factories did not have a nursing room or day-care center, as required by law for factories employing 100 women.

• Thirty-two factories do not of­fer compensation to workers in­jured on the job, while 52 factor­ies did not have a nurse or doctor on duty during working hours. Both measures are required by law.

• In 51 factories, “no suitable pro­tective equipment was [regularly] provided to [all] workers who needed it,” the survey said. In 28 factories, machines and wir­ing were below appropriate safety standards. In 44 factories, ventilation and air circulation was insufficient in all or part of the factory, while in 37 cases “general cleanliness” was insufficient.

• In 63 factories, chairs were not comfortable or adjustable as re­quired by law, and in all 65 factories workers who worked stand­ing up could not sit down dur­ing breaks “because they were not allowed to do so” or be­cause not enough chairs were pro­vided.

• In 16 factories there were “indications” that management had hampered union organizing. In 12, management had apparently discriminated against union leaders.

In a previous round of surveys the inspectors visited 30 factories. The authors did not name the 65 factories visited in this new round to give factories a chance to im­prove before the next report, sche­duled for three months from now. In subsequent reports the factory names will be tied to specific violations, as in the previous 30-factory survey. As in previous inspections, the in­spectors’ visits themselves were found to have a positive effect. In follow-up visits various factories fixed some violations, the study noted.

 

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA new weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.