GENEVA — After many years of steady progress in Cambodia, working conditions are deteriorating. In many export-oriented apparel factories, key areas including fire safety, child labor and occupational safety and health show worsening conditions, according to a monitoring report released Thursday by the International Labor Organization.
“Unfortunately our data shows that following steady improvement in working conditions between 2005 to 2011, conditions are now declining,” said Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser of the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia, or BFC, Program.
The Synthesis Report for the period from Nov. 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, which monitored 155 factories (152 garment and three footwear) concludes there is a “waning attention” to working conditions.
“Some of the noncompliance may be attributed to the industry’s rapid growth since 2011. Still, all stakeholders need to take stronger steps to halt the downward trend,” Tucker said.
The number of export factories in Cambodia soared to 412 from 384 between November 2012 and April 2013, and the amount of garment workers in export factories grew to 394,262 from 374,318 over that period, the report notes.
In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, which claimed the lives of more than 1,100 garment workers, and the death of two Cambodian workers at a footwear factory in May, the ILO said, “Global buyers are demanding that Cambodia’s industry make good on its commitment on decent work.”
The report calls for the Cambodian government, the Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia, international buyers, trade unions and civil advocacy groups to help secure positive changes in the industry, and argues that while individual factories must take responsibility for ushering in changes, sector-wide change “is unlikely” without sustained pressure from industry players and other stakeholders.
In the area of fire safety, the study outlines some measures such as availability of fire extinguishers and clearly market exits show good compliance, however, compliance with other measures, “has decreased and is unacceptably low.”
Of the 155 factories covered in the report, the ILO said, 24 kept emergency exit doors locked during working hours, which marks a significant decrease in compliance; nearly 70 factories failed to conduct emergency fire drills every six months, and 80 factories had obstructed access paths.
Similarly, it stressed BFC monitors suspected child laborers in 13 factories, and confirmed that in three of the factories, where it was able to conduct field investigations, six children were at work.
On a brighter note, the ILO also documents there have been improvements in the payment of wages, attendance bonuses and other wage supplements, and in the payment of sick leave as required, and the minimum wage was increased to $75 from $61 per month, as of May 1. A mandatory monthly health care benefit of $5 is also now included in the minimum wage, bringing the total to $80 per month.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast