Cambodian Labour Law Soap Opera: A Hit

A soap opera about labour law in a garment factory has become an unlikely hit in Cambodia. Fiction is relating fact as Cambodia modernizes the governing of its labour market.

Date issued: 02 October 2006 | Size/duration: 00:02:06 (3.5MB)


“At the Factory Gate” is a new soap opera and a surprise hit on Cambodian TV.

Set in a garment factory in Phnom Penh the characters entertain while they educate the audience about labour law, workers rights and conflict resolution.

The director is not surprised at the popularity of the series.

Tith Thearith, director, ‘At the Factory Gate’

It is a real story for us Cambodians that we all know from the garment sector. It’s what inspired us to make the series. Before, no one really understood the law and how to resolve disputes following the labour law. Now they understand what is needed for conciliation.

The soap opera is one way the International Labour Organization is helping Cambodia cope with a dynamic garment sector that grew from almost nothing to an industry worth over two billion dollars a year. It employs well over 300,000 mostly women who are newcomers to formal waged work. Here and throughout Asia, rapid economic growth has increased competition and changed the way people work and are employed.

Cambodia has managed to stay competitive while it protects its workers. It uses ILO labour standards as the basis for a garment factory monitoring system jointly set up by the government, workers and employers.

Ros Harvey, ILO

It puts together this package of monitoring and remediation and assistance to industry so we’re in fact providing a holistic service where we monitor compliance but also assist industry to improve its conditions and its performance.

The independence of these ILO monitors has been key to the success of the program. It reassures buyers, and employers say better working conditions make workers more productive.

Soun Ratana Phy, garment factory manager

After these changes, the factory has increased its production. This is partly due to the fact that the union now understands the provisions of the labour law.

A new season of “At the factory Gate” is already in production and if viewers can’t get enough of it, it might be because for them it isn’t just a soap opera, it is reality.

27/10/2008 3:04 PM - -