"The car was heard leaving home, heading for
I sadly said goodbye to my parents, hoping to return home with money for my mother", go the opening words of the song "I am precious" that won first prize at a recent song and dress-making contest here.
But the winner wasn’t a regional song contest entry. Rather, she was Touch Sreynith, a garment worker writing about the journey from her home town to work in
"The competition successfully brought together key players in the industry", says Tuomo Poutiainen, Chief Technical Advisor for BFC. "This is a good example of effective collaboration showing that by working together we can do something positive and valuable for the Cambodian garment workers."
Indeed, the recent contest was more than just a stage for garment workers to display their hidden talents. It shows how the garment industry has evolved along lines that improve productivity and marketing as well as working conditions.
An International Buyers’ Forum in
The Forum is an opportunity for international buyers to meet together with government, suppliers and unions. Together we can work on shared solutions. The Forum also allows
This year, the Forum saw the attendance of 17 international garment brands, represented by 43 retailers, most of which are members of the Better Factories programme. Buyers came mainly from the
Buyers announced that they would continue to source their garments from
The industry has been fearful of losing market share in 2008 if the
At the same time, buyers underlined that the existence of the Better Factories programme and its emphasis on working conditions and productivity were major reasons behind them choosing to work with
So far, the hopes of the industry and its workers have not been deceived, or as the author of the winning song puts it: "Mother, stay home and don’t worry. My life is valuable. Factory work is not shameful; it provides benefits to society".
According to Ros Harvey, "this is not surprising. The ILO’s Better Factories programme in
During a recent address to the ILO Governing Body in
He cited a number of areas of joint concern to the Bank and the ILO, including developing skills, helping workers adjust to change and expanding efforts on gender issues and that the Bank and the ILO were joining forces in such programmes as the Better Work initiative.
Based on the positive results of Better Factories Cambodia, Better Work, a joint ILO-IFC initiative is now developing global tools and piloting three country projects, in Jordan, Lesotho and Viet Nam with the full cooperation of workers’ and employers’ organizations.
The project combines enterprise assessments of compliance with labour standards at the factory level, with training and capacity building. The first phase directly benefits 1.2 million working people with the potential for reaching millions more.