Key stakeholders have attended a workshop to reinforce Cambodia’s stance on the banned use of forced labour in garment factories.
On March 16, Sok Sopheak, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce and Chairman of the Subcontract Management Committee for the Garment, Textile and Footwear Industry, led the workshop on national and international regulations related to the use of forced labor.
The aim of the seminar, which was attended by 80 people from the ministries of interior, commerce, and labour and vocational training, the General Department of Prisons, Correctional Centre 2 and members of various factory associations, was to reinforce regulations that ban the use of forced labour in factories.
During the seminar, Sok warned there are punishments in place for companies that use forced labour to produce garments and other items, including fines and imprisonment.
“[This] affects the reputation of Cambodia, which has been internationally recognised that the products exported from Cambodia are already associated with better labour standards and comply with the rules of the International Trade Organization (WTO) International Labor (ILO) and Cambodian labour law,” Sok said in a statement on Facebook about the workshop.
He added that Cambodia has benefited a lot from exports. In 2022, Cambodia's exports to the US market stood at about $8.969 million, while exports to the EU market was about $4.045 million. “Therefore, Cambodia cannot allow the production of goods produced by forced labor,” the statement added.
During the seminar, Sok also highlighted the four existing national and international laws that exist in Cambodia that ban the use of forced labour.
“This outreach workshop has been actively discussed and asked questions, as well as the organization of this important workshop to avoid the wrong practice to affect the direct interests of the factory-enterprise, even if not intentionally, in the use of forced labour,” the statement added.
On March 17, Sok met with the American Apparel and Footwear Association and the VF Corporation to discuss previous concerns raised by both over the use of forced labour to produce goods.
He said an inter-ministerial commission had been set up in June 2011 to respond to concerns. This was expanded in January 2023 to include members of the ministries of interior, commerce and labour and vocational training. The commission leads investigations into reports of the use of forced labour.