PHNOM PENH —
A small set of Cambodian factories being monitored by the International Labor Organization have showed some signs of improvement, according to a recent report.
The ILO’s Better Factories initiative monitors 51 facilities. In a new report, the ILO says 30 of those factories showed signs of compliance improvement in 21 categories from December 2013 to February 2014.
The news comes amid ongoing turmoil in the garment sector, where unions are demanding higher monthly wages and better conditions across the industry—which employs more than 300,000 people.
The Better Factories initiative hopes to increase the number of facilities it monitors to 500, making the first 51 a test case.
In those factories, better evacuation drills and improved payment of seniority-related benefits were reported. Some of the factories are doing better working toward international standards.
But 10 of the factories monitored did not improve, said Koam Tivea, a spokesman for Better Factories. “We went to the factories three to 10 times, but the factory owners didn’t care about making improvements.”
The findings were met with some skepticism by labor leaders like Ath Thorn, head of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
The initiative is limited in scope, he said, and even if it reaches the capacity to monitor 500 factories, that’s only about half of the number Cambodia has. “Some are little known, and some do not comply with labor law,” he said.