Industry Update/National Response
- The government has paid $60-$100 million to suspended workers as of 10 June. MoLVT has allocated $60-$100 million for suspended workers and retraining programmes as part of its COVID-19 stimulus plan. Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour said 87,647 workers have become unemployed following the closure of 199 factories. From 14 February to 9 June, 324 factories employing 193,924 workers suspended operations for 14-60 days. As of mid-June, 50% of employees have returned to work. In the first round of subsidies, 33,231 workers from 111 factories received compensation, followed by 25,588 (67 factories) in the 2nd round and 49,960 (165 factories) in the 3rd. Last month, the government said over 17,000 suspended workers in the garment and tourism sectors had been identified for subsidies in the 4th round.
- The EU announced that $503 million in economic and job aid will be given in grants and loans to help Cambodia fight COVID-19 and mitigate its socio-economic impacts. Cambodia’s Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said the government was committed to implementing existing social protection programmes like providing cash to poor families.
- The government will distribute about $25 million per month to assist families registered in the IDPoor social benefits system as the country struggles through the pandemic-driven economic downturn.
- The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has asked the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to delay 2021 minimum wage negotiations. The association is arguing that the 2020 minimum wage should remain in effect because the sector is vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Special assistance to poor families: US$30/month for two months max will be given to poor households in urban areas, and US$20 for households in rural areas. In addition, individuals in vulnerable groups (e.g. persons with disabilities, more than 60 years, persons living with HIV/AIDS, etc) will receive US$10/month. US$125 million has been transferred to Wing so they can execute this cash transfer assistance. (Source: Khmer Times)
- Cambodian King and Queen have donated 2$ million to the national committee to combat COVID-19. The fund will be allocated to support preventive activities/campaigns on COVID-19. (Source: The Phnom Penh Post)
- 500 hectares of lands have been recently invested as industrial park in Kompong Speu, Cambodia by Canadia Bank and Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC). It aims to attract Chinese factories and relocate garment factories in Phnom Penh to the industrial park. (Source: Khmertimes)
- On 2 June, as part of additional measures for supporting factories that are impacted by COVID-19 crisis, the government issued a notification that the implementation of the seniority payment for undetermined duration contracts (UDC) will be extended to 2021.
- A government instruction from 7 April announced that for factories that temporarily suspend their production with authorization from the MoLVT, workers will receive US$70 per month (US$40 from the government and another US$30 from the employer) for two months, from 10 April 2020. Workers were initially required to participate in training during this time period, a requirement that no longer applies.
- A government instruction from 7 April 2020 informs enterprises that they can delay the payment of seniority indemnity for workers in 2019.
- On 5 April, the Ministry of Health issued instruction No. 059/20 on collective transportation for owners of buses and minivans with more than 10 travellers. The MoH instructs these drivers to properly ventilate their vehicles; encourage all travellers to wear a mask or towel to cover their mouths or noses; regularly clean their vehicles with soap or alcohol; and have hand sanitizer for travellers to clean their hands before getting on the bus. If any driver has symptoms such as a cold, the driver must temporarily suspend his/her work to receive a medical check-up.
- MoLVT has issued instruction No.004/20 on Preventive Measures against Coronavirus at Enterprises. The guidelines cover provisions for employers and workers, including recommendations for temperature control, hygiene best-practices, and material to communicate with workers on prevention and awareness via factory loud-speaker systems.
- The government issued instruction No.014/20 (February) on contract suspension. Suspended workers can receive 40% of their salary from their employer and an additional 20% from the government (capped at 60%, and conditional on undertaking soft skills training). The government has also suspended National Social Security Fund contributions for garment and textile factories affected by a shortage of raw materials due to COVID-19.
Factory Service Update
- BFC will resume on-site factory visits by mid August
- BFC launched the Factory Ambassadors’ Induction Program on 16 June, attended by 150 participants representing 92 factories. The purpose of the programme is to: build the capacity of enterprise compliance staff, to establish a counterpart at enterprise level for BFC advisors facilitate meetings virtually, and to continue building sustainable factory level services.
- Since June, BFC has been conducting regular virtual trainings for factories. An updated list of trainings can be found on BFC’s website.
- Advisory services are being delivered virtually with a focus on distributing World Health Organisation materials on COVID-19 prevention and raising awareness of COVID-19 with the joint worker-management committee members
- To address physical distancing challenges during workers’ commute in collective transportation, posters and flyers on COVID-19 preventive measures for collective transportation drivers and garment workers have been produced in collaboration with WHO and Ministry of Health, as well as Solidarity Center, GIZ and brand partners. These will be disseminated to factories.
- Two industry seminars on COVID-19 have been delivered virtually to factories in late March and early April, and additional four virtual industry seminars on suspension and contract termination, emergency preparedness and COVID-19 and gender were conducted in April and May. A virtual training on machine safety to advisory services was conducted on 8 May.
- BFC will offer several virtual public trainings in June 2020. More information can be found on BFC’s training webpage.
Additional Better Work Activities
- Targeted messages on COVID-19 prevention on collective transportation and promotion of BFC’s COVID 19 Worker Safety hotline are being disseminated to Cambodia’s garment and footwear factories.
- Over 100 factories have received posters and banners to promote best practices for ensuring safety and health among garment workers and drivers of public transportation, and to promote BFC’s Worker Safety number.
- Two virtual capacity building sessions on adult learning principles were carried out for GMAC trainers the week of 15 June.
- BFC has launched a COVID-19 Worker Safety hotline that uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology – an automated system to which workers can call to learn about COVID-19 prevention and get information for their daily work and life. The hotline has been featured in local media and promoted among factories, brands, tripartite partners, and other agencies.
- A virtual Workshop on COVID-19 regulations was organized on 11 May for local buyer representatives. The objective of the workshop was to share details on regulations released by the government for the garment sector to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
- The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), GMAC, Trade Unions, ILO’s OSH Project in Cambodia, and Better Factories Cambodia jointly organized a Virtual World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 29 April.
- Virtual COVID-19 awareness raising sessions (in collaboration with the World Health Organisation), for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training Department of Occupational Safety and Health and its inspectors, and the Provincial Department of Labour have been conducted, so these officials can in turn support factories.
- Union federations have been supported in COVID-19 awareness raising virtually, and the federations have then shared the information with their members and local unions.On 20 May, the BFC team with BWG support, conducted a virtual Gender Awareness session for the BFC Trade Union Contact Group.
- Better Factories Cambodia is liaising with all stakeholders to limit the impact on workers and business and identify a collective approach to support the industry.