The primary responsibility to improve labor conditions in
the Cambodian garment industry rests with the Cambodian government. But a
number of other influential actors—brands, Better Factories Cambodia
(BFC), the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), and
unions—play an important role in ensuring that working conditions in
factories adhere to the Labor Law and international standards. While paying
attention to individual labor rights concerns, the structural issues that
underlie a range of labor rights problems—hiring practices, union-busting
strategies, and unauthorized subcontracting—need urgent attention. The
vast majority of workers are women and the issues affecting women workers are
of particular concern.
To the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training
On hiring practices
the regulation and monitoring of hiring practices:
a proclamation (prakas) requiring factories that employ a significant number
of workers on short-term contracts (called fixed-duration contracts or FDCs in
Cambodia) to furnish information on the number of workers employed each month
for the preceding year to demonstrate that business-related fluctuations are driving
the heavy use of FDCs.
a proclamation clarifying home-based garment workers have the same rights as
other workers and mandating that subcontractors issue them proof of work.
a proclamation requiring factories to provide all workers identity cards listing
their actual start date and regularly update them.
in consultation with independent unions and the ILO, all union registration procedures
and eliminate unnecessarily burdensome requirements (such as certificates of no
criminal conviction) that violate ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of
Association. In the interim, accept and promptly grant pending applications for
the requirement that unions inform employers of the identity of newly elected
office-bearers as a prerequisite to union registration. Consult with ILO and
labor rights experts and develop an alternative notification system to ensure
legal protection for unions. For example, notification could be permitted to a
neutral third party such as the ILO.
in consultation with independent unions and Better Factories Cambodia, a
transparent system of union registrations, in which the status of each
application can be tracked online.
that any trade union law adopted in Cambodia fully respects international
standards, and ensure that the drafting process is transparent and includes
consultation with independent labor unions and labor rights advocates.
On labor inspections
labor inspection methods, including through periodic joint monitoring with BFC,
and paying special attention to:
repeated use of fixed-term contracts;
overtime and retaliatory measures for refusing overtime;
about working conditions for pregnant workers, including discrimination in
hiring, contract renewals, promotions, and provision of reasonable workplace
of sick leave and disproportionate deduction of attendance bonuses; child
of discrimination against union leaders from licensed unions and newly formed
and regularly disclose (such as every four months) the number of factories
inspected, key labor rights violations found, and enforcement actions taken.
The terms of disclosure should be finalized in consultation with various
actors, including labor rights advocates, independent unions, and BFC.
adequate resources for labor inspectors in Phnom Penh and other provinces and
periodically disclose a statement of allocation and expenditure, including
out-of-pocket reimbursement for factory inspectors, in order to curb
On gender-related concerns
a proclamation or other appropriate ministerial regulation, developed in
consultation with various actors including the Ministry of Women’s
Affairs, independent unions, and labor rights advocates, that:
a definition of sexual harassment at the workplace, outlines prevention measures
that employers should take, and sets forth independent grievance redress
procedures that employers should create to investigate and respond to
individual complaints of harassment.
protections against unfair dismissal of workers in accordance with ILO
Convention No. 158 on the Termination of Employment at the Initiative of the
reasonable accommodation measures for pregnant workers in accordance with the
ILO Convention and Recommendation on Maternity Protection, 2000.
On child labor
with the Ministry of Education, ILO, GMAC, nongovernmental organizations, and
others to promote education and sustainable solutions to underlying causes of
child labor, including through programs to support employment, skills
development, and job training opportunities for young workers.
To the Ministry of Commerce
and regularly disclose (such as every six months) the names and number of
garment and footwear factories that are registered with the ministry so that
these may be cross-verified by labor rights groups and the Labor Ministry for
and regularly disclose (such as every four months) any actions initiated by the
ministry against garment and footwear factories that are not compliant with
Cambodia’s Labor Law, especially factories appearing on BFC’s
and regularly disclose (such as every six months) the names of all
international apparel and footwear brands sourcing from Cambodia.
To the Royal Government of
and issue public progress reports on enforcement actions initiated by the Ministry
of Commerce and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training against low-compliance
factories named in the BFC Transparency Database.
the mandate of BFC to include factories without export permits.
a freedom of information law that meets international standards; consult with
local and international human rights organizations in drafting the law.
and regularly disclose (such as every six months) contributions received to any
government fund, and issue a directive requiring high-level ministers and
bureaucrats to also declare income sources.
arbitrary bans on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and revise
existing legislation on demonstrations so that any restrictions on these
freedoms are absolutely necessary for public order and proportionate to the
or prosecute, as appropriate, members of the security forces responsible for
excessive use of force, including unjustified use of lethal force, during the
January 2014 protests.
a tripartite minimum-wage-setting mechanism to periodically review and
recommend minimum wage adjustments. The minimum-wage-setting mechanism should
include worker representatives drawn from independent union federations and
have a third party neutral observer to report on the proceedings.
ILO Conventions No. 158 on Termination of Employment at the Initiative of the
Employer; No. 183 on Maternity Protection (2000); and No. 131 on Minimum Wage
To International Brands
and approach to subcontractor factories
disclose all authorized production units on a regular (such as semi-annual)
basis, indicate the level of production (for example, whether the unit is a
small, medium, or large supplier), and disclose when the unit was most recently
inspected by independent monitors.
a whistleblower protection system for workers and union representatives who
alert the brand to unauthorized subcontracting. The system should ensure that
all workers and union representatives receive appropriate protection for a reasonable
period, including legal representation to defend themselves against vexatious lawsuits
or criminal complaints filed by factories; monthly wages including the minimum
wage, reasonable allowances, and overtime pay; and, where workers are dismissed
from work soon after reporting the subcontract, possible alternative employment
at a nearby location.
that unauthorized subcontractor factories brought to brand attention are
reported to BFC’s monitoring and advisory services. Where feasible and appropriate,
the brand should contribute toward monitoring and remediation for a reasonable
period before stopping production or terminating business relationships.
that all factories that have subcontracted work without authorization over a
particular period (for example, the past year) are reported to BFC for
monitoring and advisory services, irrespective of whether the factory currently
undertakes subcontracted production for the brand.
that unauthorized subcontractor factories brought to brand attention are
formally reported to the Labor Ministry for monitoring and enforcement action.
with BFC to publicly list the names of brands that source from the factories that
BFC monitors in order to facilitate greater transparency in brand supply
the Code of Conduct for Suppliers to protect workers in subcontractor factories.
On labor compliance and industrial relations
all authorized production units with BFC (including those without export
licenses) and improve purchase and use of BFC’s factory monitoring and
that pricing and sourcing contracts adequately reflect and incorporate the cost
to suppliers of labor, health, and safety compliance. This should include the
cost of minimum wage salaries, overtime payments, and benefits. These efforts
should be undertaken in consultation with worker rights groups and independent
the Code of Conduct for Suppliers and, if not already specified in the code,
add provisions on the following:
clause that forbids illegal use of casual contracts and FDCs, including as a
method of bypassing labor protections.
limiting the use of FDCs to seasonal or temporary work for all workers and
incentivizing the adoption of undetermined duration contracts. Communicate with
all suppliers that primarily employing male workers only on short-term FDCs is
clause drawing a distinction between reasonable and unreasonable production
targets that disregard worker rights.
that suppliers set productivity targets that allow adequate breaks during the
work day in accordance with basic human rights and dignity, including breaks for
rest, drinks of water, and use of restrooms, and that increases in minimum
wages do not result in intensified and unreasonable demands on workers.
or enhance collaboration with local stakeholders to eliminate child labor in
garment factories, including by working with government officials, the ILO,
NGOs, and others. The initiatives should focus on preventing child labor through
improved access to primary and secondary education and alternative skill-building
an alternative funding model and a time-bound plan to share Better Factories
Cambodia (BFC) factory monitoring reports with factory unions. In the interim,
disseminate factory monitoring report findings to unions and at least those
workers who are part of BFC off-site and on-site discussions.
information from the Transparency Database Critical Issues Factories ’
List to unions and workers in accessible and appropriate formats.
guidelines, in consultation with workers, independent union representatives,
and labor rights activists, aimed at strengthening mechanisms for off-site
interviews with workers in the course of BFC factory-level monitoring.
and implement a time-bound plan for expanding mandatory monitoring to all garment
and footwear factories, irrespective of whether they have export-licenses.
the list of low-compliance factories on the Transparency Database to include
the bottom 20 percent of factories performing poorly.
the information tracked in the Transparency Database to include the following:
names of the sourcing brands.
the factory purchased BFC advisory services.
BFC has notified the concerned brands of labor rights violations and, if so,
any responses BFC received from brands.
brands made a financial contribution toward factory purchase of advisory services
and what percentage of the costs they covered.
on remediation and brand contribution toward remediation.
the names of brands that source from BFC-monitored factories on the public list
of BFC-monitored factories.
a public Transparency Database for Brands that periodically updates information
on the following:
number of BFC monitoring reports that brands have purchased annually and the names
of the factories concerned.
number of brands that have contributed toward purchase of advisory services by
supplier or subcontractor factories, and the percentage of the overall costs
paid by brands in each instance.
names of brands that have not responded to BFC ’s invitations to subscribe
to BFC monitoring services or have failed to respond to BFC concerns about
individual supplier factories.
a study of forced overtime, the use of production quotas, and factory moves to
piece-rate wages following minimum wage increases.
To the Garment
Manufacturers Association of Cambodia
and regularly disclose and make available on the Garment Manufacturers
Association of Cambodia (GMAC) website an updated list of all GMAC members,
including subcontractor factory members.
and make public written policies prohibiting the illegal use of FDCs and
discriminatory action against workers, such as disciplining or dismissing
workers based on pregnancy or union membership.
and make public a written policy detailing penalties to be imposed by GMAC on factory
members listed as low-compliance in the BFC Transparency Database, including
fines, loss of privileges, and suspension of company officials from leadership
positions in GMAC and the company from general membership in GMAC. The
suspensions should remain in place until the company is taken off the low compliance
and make public a policy imposing penalties on GMAC member companies that do
not comply with Arbitration Council findings that the companies engaged in
awareness programs in member factories against sexual harassment and other forms
of harassment at the workplace.
and create avenues for women ’s equal participation in union leadership at
the factory, federation, and confederation levels, including through adoption
of new union policies.
gender committees at the factory level and provide training to workers about
specific gender-related workplace concerns, including sexual harassment at the workplace.
procedures to allow home-based garment workers to join unions and be
represented in collective bargaining agreements.
To the EU, US,
Canada, Japan, and Other Countries Whose Apparel and Footwear Companies Source
legislation or regulations to require international apparel buyers domiciled in
the country to periodically disclose and update the names of their global
suppliers and subcontractors, and, to provide updates on the status of any
inspections by independent monitors as of the date of disclosure.
a sourcing policy for government procurement which, among other things,
requires companies to disclose and update the names of their global suppliers
and subcontractors, and, to provide updates on the status of any inspections by
independent monitors as of the date of disclosure.
EU member-countries should take steps to incorporate the 2014 EU
Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity
information into national law swiftly.
a proposal at the ILO Governing Body for standard setting on “violence
against women and men in the world of work,” where the definition of
gender-based violence specifically includes sexual harassment.
To the ILO, UN
agencies, the World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, and Other Multilateral
and Bilateral Donors to Cambodia
with BFC to implement the above recommendations and consider funding the progressive
expansion of BFC to ensure that its monitoring and advisory services programs
extend to all factories, regardless of whether or not they have export permits.
in consultation with labor rights activists and workers, a special awareness
program and technical guidance to prevent and seek redress against sexual
harassment and other forms of harassment at the workplace.
encourage women ’s participation in union leadership and encourage
training, awareness-generation, and the development of factory-level complaints
mechanisms against sexual harassment at the workplace.
ILO efforts to strengthen the capacity, transparency, and accountability of the
Cambodian Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to implement the above
recommendations, including evaluation of the labor inspectorate through joint
inspections with BFC.
commission studies to analyze trends in apparel prices, wages, and cost of
living in major apparel exporting countries to facilitate the comparison of
international apparel brands ’ pricing and to encourage good practice.
a survey of Cambodian home-based workers, including home-based garment workers,
to ensure that such workers are counted and their labor rights addressed.
due diligence on government and private sector projects in Cambodia to ensure
that projects or funding do not directly or indirectly support labor rights
violations. This should include assessing the labor rights risks of each
activity prior to project approval and throughout the life of the project,
identifying measures to avoid or mitigate risks, and comprehensively
supervising the projects including through independent third-party reporting
when risks are identified.