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ILO, Cambodian Garment Manufacturers Agree to Eliminate Child Labor

Child labor has been a problem plaguing Cambodia for years, and a new agreement between the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) is the latest effort to eradicate it.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the two groups will sign an agreement Thursday designed to abolish child labor in Cambodia’s garment industry.

“The agreement emphasizes collaboration between BFC and GMAC in the process of identifying and remediating any confirmed cases of child labour,” the statement noted. “When workers under the age of 15 are identified, they are offered access to suitable vocational training institutes and are paid the equivalent of their average monthly factory pay until they reach 15.”

Factories will get financial support from GMAC to support age confirmation and remediation costs.

The Cambodian government has previously reaffirmed its commitment to end child labor with goals of reducing incidences across all sectors from 16.5% in 1999 to 8 percent in 2015, and eliminating the worst forms of child labor, like performing hazardous work, completely by 2016.

Cambodia’s Labor Minister Ith Samheng stressed the importance of the collective action in protecting the “Made in Cambodia” brand name.

GMAC has been working with BFC, a project to monitor factories and help them maintain improvements, for the last 14 years to establish a zero tolerance policy toward 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,” Xinhua reported GMAC president Van Sou Ieng as saying.

The garment and footwear sector is Cambodia’s largest foreign currency earner made up of roughly 960 factories employing 620,000 workers.

Cambodia’s textile, apparel and footwear exports to the U.S. for the first ten months of this year totaled $2.65 billion, according to OTEXA.