The International Labour Organization (ILO), Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) are coming together to step up efforts to stop child labour in the Cambodian garment industry. The three industry bodies plan to sign an agreement aimed at abolishing child labour once and for all.

The agreement emphasizes the collaboration between GMAC and BFC when identifying and remediating any confirmed cases of child labour. To make sure that underage workers (i.e. under the age of 15) have the financial means to pull out of child labor, they will be offered access to suitable vocational training institutes that pay them the equivalent of their average monthly factory wages until they reach the age of 15. The GMAC will ensure financial support for age confirmation and remediation costs from its member factories.

The ILO and ILO-BFC’s tripartite partners – the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), GMAC and trade unions - have made the effective elimination of child labour in the garment industry their goal. They are hoping to achieve this goal by 2016 after first reducing child labor to 8 percent in 2015. In 1999, this percentage was 16.5 percent.

Ith Sam Heng, Cambodia's minister of labour and vocational training, who previously reaffirmed the government’s commitment to combating child labour, highlighted the importance of collective action so that the Cambodian garment industry can protect the label “Made in Cambodia”.

“We have a zero tolerance policy towards child labour and have been working very closely with Better Factories Cambodia over the past 14 years in this regard. This agreement further solidifies our commitment and provides a positive remediation for those underage workers that slip through the crack and are found working in our member factories,” said GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng.

“BFC’s monitoring has noticed a decline in the cases of confirmed child labour in 2014 compared to 2013. While this trend is encouraging, we are thankful that GMAC and its members continue to focus on this issue and collaborate with BFC to assist those underage workers,” added BFC's program manager Jill Tucker.

The Better Factories program is an initiative by the ILO that was started in 2001. It aims to improve working conditions in garment factories while promoting productivity and competitiveness.