Industry Update/National Response
- June: Officials have said that most new cases of COVID-19 across the country have been found among garment workers. The Phnom Penh governor said many workers share housing and travel to and from factories on crowded trucks; he urged workers to stay home and quarantine if they fall ill. The director of Svay Rieng provincial labor department said workers are becoming infected because they live, work and travel together, making it difficult to distance. The vice president of the Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia said health measures will continue to fall short as long as workers have to live in shared homes and take overcrowded vehicles and advised vaccinations of factory workers should be prioritized.
- Phnom Penh’s Kandal Market has reopened to a limited number of daily shoppers.
- The Meanchey district authorities, in cooperation with officials from the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MoLVT), announced and suspended the operation of two factories—Heng Cheng factory and Yin Chien factory—for two days from June 1. Eight workers at Heng Cheng tested positive, while three workers at Yin Chien did.
- Cambodia received $1.2 billion in remittances from migrant workers abroad last year, a 17% drop from $1.5 billion in 2019, according to the National Bank of Cambodia. The fall is due to lower incomes and fewer workers abroad.
May: Lockdown has been lifted, factories in a geographical area where there has been transmission of Covid-19 disease in the community are allowed to be reopened following new guidelines and procedures. Vaccinations for factory workers are still ongoing across the country. The president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) said she was concerned the virus would continue to spread among other workers without stricter measures. She added that the government had not undertaken serious efforts to prevent infections among garment workers. In Kampong Speu, the Wah Sun KH was closed after about 30 workers tested positive in early May. Authorities also temporarily closed some sections of 11 other factories after finding cases of COVID-19 there. Authorities in Kampong Cham province are investigating after confirming 35 positive cases, mostly among garment workers
- April: Over 200 factories in Phnom Penh and Takhmao are closed due to the extended lockdown, affecting around 1.2 million workers according to the MoLVT. On April 28, the Ministry announced that factory workers will receive 50% of their April salaries if they have been suspended due to the lockdown. The National Trade Union Coalition (NTUC) has asked the MoLVT Minister, GMAC, and company directors to pay workers directly at each factories’ premises to avoid social gathering at bank queues to help prevent the transmission of the virus.
Factory Service Update
- June: In-person factory services are suspended until further notice and BFC is still operating virtually with advisory and training for factories. For assessment, BFC will conduct Virtual Compliance Check (VCC) during this time
- An updated Factory Pricing and training catalogs have been updated on the site.
- 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 the enterprise level for BFC advisors to facilitate meetings virtually, and to continue building sustainable factory-level services.
- 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.
Additional Better Work Activities
- In collaboration with WHO, Better Factories Cambodia has conducted a risk assessment of garment factories and provided guidance on the safe reopening of factories. The guidance to factories and government included risk-based recommendations and a checklist including actions that can help keep factories and workers safe and mitigate transmissions for the reopening and during the pandemic. Others risk communications material adapted for garment factories and workers have also been developed.
- BFC partnered with care to host a learning summit to share new tools, good practices, and evidence of what works to prevent gender-based violence and harassment in the garment industry.
- 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.
- Better Factories Cambodia is liaising with all stakeholders to limit the impact on workers and businesses and identify a collective approach to support the industry.