The garment industry must
work to decrease illegal strikes and better train workers before the end of the
year, when competition from Chinese could further damage the sector, a new analysis suggests.
Growth within Cambodia’s top industry slowed in 2008, and a recent International Labor Organization report found that
of 35 labor strikes in 2007, 32 were illegal. Meanwhile, the amount of value a
Cambodian worker can add to a garment is much lower than in neighboring
Price competition is expected to increase when the US lifts
safeguards on Chinese exports at the end of the year, according to the Cambodia
Institute of Development Study, which issued a monitoring report in July.
“As price competition will likely continue to
intensify…Cambodian factories will likely lean on the strategy of labor
compliance in the short term and raising productivity and skills in the long
term,” according to the report.
Union leaders need to be trained to understand the basics of
the global economy and be ready to compete in it, said Kang Chadararoth,
director of the Institute.
Workers and managers must learn to resolve their problems to
keep a factory viable, he said.
“We have to take responsibility, even if we are workers
depending on monthly wages. If the factory is good we get more wages,” he said.
“The factory owner also has to do the same thing. If they pay the workers on time...care
about working conditions, have good relationships, then the environment of the
factory is good, and you are able to compete better.”
Kaing Monika, an official with the Garment Manufacturing
Association of Cambodia, said Cambodia
had a productivity problem, not a labor compliance problem. Nearly 90 percent
of factories complied with labor laws, he said.
Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said the government has been
aware of the lifting of trade barriers with Vietnam
and has been preparing for the competition.
“We have made a working conditions policy for all factories
to respect the rights of workers, and we use this reputation to attract
buyers,” he said. “We are succeeding and we are a country as a good symbol to