Garment Makers Ready Complaints Against ILO

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia is preparing to compile a report of grievances against the International Labor Organization to present to Prime Minister Hun Sen, a GMAC official said Monday.

The ILO is currently seeking clarification from the government after Prime Minister Hun Sen last week said that there might be “bad people” working for the UN agen­cy who have attempted to extort money from factory owners.

Cheath Khemara, labor issues officer for GMAC, claimed Mon­day that GMAC has received many complaints from its members alleging that ILO staffers have made biased reports on factory working conditions.

GMAC members have claimed that ILO staff only interview workers and blame factory owners for problems, he said.

GMAC members will meet soon to compile all of the complaints for a report to be sent to Hun Sen, he said, though he did not give a date.

Tuomo Poutiainen, chief technical adviser for ILO’s Better Fac­tories Cambodia project, said that approximately 300 individual factory reports are generated by ILO each year for Cambodia and that the “margin of error in these re­ports is minimal.”

“From our perspective the reports are accurate,” he said, adding that factory owners are given every opportunity to raise objections during the monitoring process.

If GMAC does have serious grievances, ILO is sensitive to these concerns and hopes that they can be discussed in a constructive manner, he said.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen called on the ILO to examine whether its factory reports have had misinformation inserted.

Kari Tapiola, the ILO’s executive director, subsequently sent a letter directly to Hun Sen seeking clarification of the remarks, Poutiainen said.

The government has not yet explained the remarks, but ILO representatives will meet with officials from the Commerce and Labor Ministries this week to discuss this and other matters, Poutiainen said.

Van Sou Ieng, GMAC chairman, said the ILO should be advancing the garment industry rather than policing factories. He added that GMAC still wants to work with ILO, before referring further questions to Cheath Khemara.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said Sunday that Hun Sen did not criticize the ILO or say that its reports were inaccurate, but merely informed the ILO of concerns raised by a local businessman. “Hun Sen just asked ILO to examine its staff,” Khieu Kanharith said. “He didn’t blame ILO.”




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