Nearly 400 candidates have applied for the eight labor monitoring positions available at the International Labor Organization, according to Lejo Sibbel, ILO chief technical adviser to a garment sector project.
Selected monitors will perform a main task of the project—independently monitoring working conditions in the garment industry by visiting every factory without notice and making a report every three months.
Those selected will have a large responsibility, influencing how much Cambodia can obtain in extra production quotas to export textile products to the US market. The garment sector is the single-largest industry in the country, generating about $900 million in exports last year.
“If you look at Cambodia where everyday you see one or two labor issues in newspapers, there’s lots of potential in the [monitoring] job,” Sibbel said.
The project is a product of the US-Cambodia trade agreement signed in January 1999 that imposes quotas on Cambodia’s textile products exported to the US. The treaty, the first of its kind to tie labor conditions to US quotas, says Cambodia can receive a bonus quota of up to 14 percent every year if the industry improves working conditions and complies with the labor law.
Last May, the US, Cambodia and ILO agreed to launch the three-year project to monitor garment factories.
Under the project, an eight-member monitoring team will formulate a report on labor conditions based on findings from factory visits. Such quarterly reports will be available to the public for review and will also be used by the US to determine the bonus quota.
If necessary, ILO will also help each factory develop an action plan to improve labor conditions with management and workers, Sibbel said. However, neither ILO nor the monitoring team will have law enforcement power like the Ministry of Labor, he said.
Keo Borentr, deputy general-director for labor with the ministry, said a task force is now screening all the candidates for the job to call for interviews. Officials said monitors will be recruited in two weeks. After a three-month training, the team is expected to start in July.
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