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Alleged noncompliance with Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining and Health and Safety provisions of the Workplace Code of Conduct, specifically undue delays in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement and noncompliance regarding short-term contracts and health and safety issues.
On June 8, 2006, the FLA received a Third Party Complaint filed by the Cambodia Industry Union Federation (CIUF) regarding Great Lancelot International Co., Ltd. (“Great Lancelot”), a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The complaint alleged noncompliance with respect to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining and Health and Safety provisions of the Workplace Code of Conduct.
The FLA initiated a Third Party Complaint at Step 2, and notified the complainant and Phillips-Van Heusen (the FLA affiliated company mentioned in the complaint) about its action on July 5 and 6, respectively. (Note: Pursuant to Step 2, FLA companies had up to 45-days to conduct an assessment and report back to the Executive Director in writing as to whether noncompliance with the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct occurred and, if so, whether and how it had been remedied.)
Assessment by Company: Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH) officials met with representatives of the Better Factories Cambodia program, Great Lancelot management, CIUF representatives at the factory, and the Cambodia Field Director of the AFL-CIO’s American Center for International Labor Solidarity. PVH officials also interviewed Great Lancelot workers. On September 29, PVH submitted to the FLA its assessment under Step 2 of the Third Party Complaint procedure with the following key points:
Collective bargaining began at Great Lancelot in 2005. Management eventually decided to halt negotiations until the conclusion of industry-wide negotiations between the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and trade union confederations. However, because of the Third Party Complaint and discussion with PVH, management resumed negotiations with CIUF.
Short-term contracts appear to be administered in accordance with Cambodian Labor Law.
Management reported that: (1) drinking water is provided by a government-approved purified water supplier; and (2) promised to pay greater attention to the cleanliness of toilet facilities.
Management agreed that the clinic was not adequate; it has been working on creating a new clinic.
To deal with the issue of the work environment, the factory is undergoing construction to increase the working area by 80%.
Note: The Better Factories Cambodia program of the International Labor Organization (ILO) monitors and reports on working conditions of Cambodian garment factories according to national and international labor standards. Better Factories Cambodia first monitored Great Lancelot International Co., Ltd. in June 2003 and subsequently named the factory and reported on its progress in January 2005 and October 2005.
FLA Follow-Up: In early October, FLA staff met with CIUF officials in Cambodia. CIUF officials confirmed that:
- Collective bargaining resumed on June 18, 2006; CIUF officials indicated that the recent progress in negotiations after a one-year hiatus was directly due to the support by the FLA and PVH.
- Short-term contracts, specifically Fixed Duration Contracts (FDCs), were a problem, as more than 50% workers at Great Lancelot were under FDCs. While the use of FDCs may not be technically a violation of the labor law, they may undermine the law’s intent. CIUF aims to deal with the issue of short-term contracts in negotiations with the factory.
Note: The FLA indicated that the Better Factories Cambodia program has expressed concern about growing use of FDCs; this practice said to be "troubling because it may indicate that they misunderstand the appropriate use of the different types of contracts, or that they are using FDCs to undermine workers’ employment security."
As a result of the involvement of PVH, pursuant to the Third Party Complaint process, collective bargaining negotiations between Great Lancelot and the CIUF have resumed, thereby accomplishing the main objective of the complaint. Other issues raised by the complainant have also been addressed by the factory. The FLA thus decided to close the Third Party Complaint at Step 2 and informed CIUF officials of its decision in a meeting on October 4, 2006. For additional information on FDCs, see: “Better Factories concerned about labour contracts,” Better Factories Cambodia, Quarterly Newsletter, No. 6, October 2006.
FLA case story page: http://www.fairlabor.org/report/great-lancelot-international-co-ltd-factory-cambodia