MONITORING CHILD LABOUR IN CAMBODIA

In Cambodia, a system of factory monitors has virtually eliminated child labour in the textile industry. It’s partly down to a unique partnership with the government, employers, and the International Labour Organization. ILO TV reports on the difference it has made to the life of one young girl, Sok Keng.

Date issued: 01 July 2004 | Size/duration: 00:02:32 (2.46 MB)

This quarry outside of Phnom Penh is the only means of support for many families in the area. The work is backbreaking and poorly paid, but Sok Keng knew at an early age she would have to carry some of the weight of supporting her family to survive. Too small to be much help in the quarry, she went to a nearby factory to find work.

Sok Keng

When I came to work as a garment worker, I didn’t dare tell them my real age because I am small and young. I was so afraid they wouldn’t accept me to work.

In Cambodia, the garment industry is playing a key role in rebuilding the country’s economy with over 1.6 billion US dollars in exports. It employs some 200,000 workers, mostly women, who are able to support an entire family on their wages. But those higher wages also attract underage girls like Sok Keng who falsify their documents to get a job.

Sok Keng

When I came to work as a garment worker, I didn’t dare tell them my real age because I am small and young. I was so afraid they wouldn’t accept me to work.

In Cambodia, the garment industry is playing a key role in rebuilding the country’s economy with over 1.6 billion US dollars in exports. It employs some 200,000 workers, mostly women, who are able to support an entire family on their wages. But those higher wages also attract underage girls like Sok Keng who falsify their documents to get a job.

In Cambodia, the garment industry is playing a key role in rebuilding the country’s economy with over 1.6 billion US dollars in exports. It employs some 200,000 workers, mostly women, who are able to support an entire family on their wages. But those higher wages also attract underage girls like Sok Keng who falsify their documents to get a job.

Chea Sophal, ILO Project Assistant

They do it because the income that supports their families is very low. So to generate more income, they lie about their age in order to get a job.

Under a unique partnership with the Cambodian Government and employers, the International Labour Organization is working with companies to help them apply the country’s labour laws. Underage workers like Sok Keng are identified by ILO’s factory monitors, and placed at one of the training centres set up in nearby villages.

Chea Sophal, ILO Project Assistant

They do it because the income that supports their families is very low. So to generate more income, they lie about their age in order to get a job.

Under a unique partnership with the Cambodian Government and employers, the International Labour Organization is working with companies to help them apply the country’s labour laws. Underage workers like Sok Keng are identified by ILO’s factory monitors, and placed at one of the training centres set up in nearby villages.

Under a unique partnership with the Cambodian Government and employers, the International Labour Organization is working with companies to help them apply the country’s labour laws. Underage workers like Sok Keng are identified by ILO’s factory monitors, and placed at one of the training centres set up in nearby villages.

There she learns the skills to get a good job in this expanding industry once she is legally of age to work. It’s an arrangement that works for everyone.

There she learns the skills to get a good job in this expanding industry once she is legally of age to work. It’s an arrangement that works for everyone.

Factory manager

You can look at it from two sides. From one point of view we’re doing the right thing. We’re trying to improve their life style, but on the other hand, if you look at it from a strictly economic point of view, productivity goes up.

That’s because the monitoring system has virtually eliminated child labor in textile factories here, while keeping an eye on working conditions, workers’ rights and labour violations that ultimately affect a factory’s performance.

Factory manager

You can look at it from two sides. From one point of view we’re doing the right thing. We’re trying to improve their life style, but on the other hand, if you look at it from a strictly economic point of view, productivity goes up.

That’s because the monitoring system has virtually eliminated child labor in textile factories here, while keeping an eye on working conditions, workers’ rights and labour violations that ultimately affect a factory’s performance.

That’s because the monitoring system has virtually eliminated child labor in textile factories here, while keeping an eye on working conditions, workers’ rights and labour violations that ultimately affect a factory’s performance.

For Sok Keng, what’s important is knowing that she will now be able to support her family and perhaps one day open a sewing business of her own.

For Sok Keng, what’s important is knowing that she will now be able to support her family and perhaps one day open a sewing business of her own.