BFC started in 2001 as the foundational programme of Better Work, which is a joint programme between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. BFC has been instrumental in improving working conditions in the garment sector while increasing the competitiveness of Cambodia as a smart sourcing destination.
With over 660 participating factories, employing more than 645,000 workers of which approximately 80% are women, BFC is committed to gender equity and empowerment in the workplace and aims to improve the lives of workers, their families and communities as well as the competitiveness of Cambodian garment, travel goods and bag sector and footwear factories in the global market.
By 2027, employers and workers and their representatives uphold and are protected by national labour laws and fundamental principles and rights at work; and enterprises in the sector are more sustainable, resilient and inclusive.
By 2027, Better Factories Cambodia’s impact on workers, enterprises and compliance is sustained by national institutions that leverage the Programme’s approaches, data and evidence.
By 2027, Better Factories Cambodia, in partnerships with relevant industry actors, will ensure enterprises that participate in the programme have adopted policies and practices on responsible business conduct that support the realization of decent work and sustainable compliance.
By 2027, the programme’s learnings and methods have created positive social and environmental impacts beyond the programme.
PHNOM PENH – Soriya* is a worker in one of the garment factories receiving services from Better Factories Cambodia that has recently transitioned to digital wages. For many garment workers, adapting to this new way of receiving wages has been challenging. Still, the ongoing transition has the potential to improve workers’ financial literacy and make …
These themes crosscut the strategic goals and will be present in our factory engagement, research, policy influencing and content produced as well as affect how we allocate our human and financial resources.
The programme will work with universities and research institutes to collect and analyze data, consulting with constituents, including union groups, on how data is collected and used and how constituents’ data needs can be met. The programme will use data to make the case for skills development in the sector and publish research on the state of the industry related to gender, the digital wages transition and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).
In collaboration with the ILO Global Center on Digital Wages for Decent Work, BFC will coordinate with all relevant supply chain actors to ensure the responsible transition to digital wage payments. The programme will support digital literacy initiatives for workers and empower them to access digital financial services that respond to their needs and improve their economic opportunities. BFC will support relevant constituents’ dialogue and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s efforts to expand minimum wage coverage in sectors beyond the garment industry.
As part of Industrial Relations (IR) leadership programme, BFC will provide training to trade unions on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) process and advise trade unions in over 200 factories. BFC will develop and disseminate an IR toolkit to factories as part of training and advisory meetings. The trade union contact group will meet on a regular basis to receive training to increase their capacity on leadership skills, gender-based violence and harassment prevention, OSH observation skills and social dialogue.
The topic of gender equality cuts across all the work that we do at Better Factories Cambodia (BFC). To provide strategic direction in its work, BFC focuses its gender priorities under four pillars: Discrimination, Paid work and Care, Voice and Representation and Leadership and Skills Development. BFC is committed to improving working conditions to benefit both female and male workers, through improving business benefits while also bridging the gender equality gap within the Cambodian garment sector.
Alongside the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, BFC will co-train officials and staff at the provincial level on techniques to detect OSH non-compliance in factories. Together with the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), the programme will build the sector’s capacity in line with the ILO’s Code of Practice on Occupational Safety and Health. BFC will advise and provide technical assistance to constituents as they develop the Safety Act. BFC will expand its work on workplace wellbeing, mental health and social inclusion of garment workers via an online worker committee that was created in response to COVID-19 isolation.
Collaborating with the ILO’s social protection specialists in Cambodia, BFC will focus on key aspects of a garment worker’s life and livelihood, especially the tenure of workers, with particular attention given to understanding women workers’ work and care responsibilities. Enterprise Advisors will be trained on social protection concepts to embed knowledge about social protection in factories via bipartite committee meetings.
BFC will support employers to develop services for their members focused on enterprise productivity and develop a policy agenda to engage the Government on industry needs with respect to productivity gains. The programme will implement training for workers’ organizations to strengthen their role in achieving productivity gains. BFC will also partner with development agencies to assist with matching supplier requests with productivity process agencies, such as AOTS and Kaizen, to pilot new ways of streamlining the production processes.
BFC will engage with partners working on environmental sustainability in the Cambodian garment sector to determine what factors need to change at a system, enterprise and national levels to reduce sectoral emissions overall. Research related to heat stress in factories will be used to advocate for the adoption of a building code regulatory mechanism. BFC will also undertake climate change impact training for workers to understand the changes and how environmental sustainability affects them.