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ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia Reports Improved Working Conditions

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The International Labor Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program released its third online transparency report on the working conditions of 248 Cambodian factories on Tuesday. The report found the number of factories conducting regular emergency evacuation drills increased from 57 percent to 76 percent. Factories discriminating against workers dropped from 15 percent to 7 percent, and the number of factories paying proper seniority-related bonuses to workers grew 64 percent to 78 percent.

Two of the 13 factories included on the Low Compliance list made 31 verifiable improvements, which as a result, moved them out of this category. Low Compliance factories are those whose performance falls two standard deviations below the mean for compliance on 52 key issues among factories with three or more BFC assessments. A quarter of the 95 factories added to the Critical Issues list made improvements on 21 basic legal requirements in anticipation of their inclusion in the report. The total amount of Critical Issues violations in this group of factories dropped from 109 to 75 between the months of July and September 2014, accomplishing a 30 percent improvement.

Thirty-eight factories, 40 percent of the newly added factories, were already in full compliance on all 21 of the basic legal requirements included in the Critical Issues division. Another 12 factories that made verifiable improvements during this period were able to move into this group.

Jill Tucker, BFC chief technical advisor, said, “We are encouraged by the improvements that have been made by these 248 factories since the Transparency program began. In many cases, factories had failed to make changes over a period of years, but they are now taking action as a result of transparent reporting.”

BFC said it is committed to supporting the competitiveness of the Cambodian garment industry and building the reputation of the country as an ethical sourcing destination. The program plans to continue its work with the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Labor, especially toward improving the factories in the Low Compliance category.

According to the BFC, the Transparency Reports are a way of returning to the organization’s previous practice of disclosing factory-specific compliance information to the public. The reports are conducted with specific goals in mind including, building the Cambodia’s garment industry’s reputation for decent working conditions, keeping up with competing industries where disclosing factory information will soon be the norm, to accelerate improvements in working conditions on critical issues across the industry and spur significant changes in chronically non-complaint factories.

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