Social Change Initiatives
We maximize our impact through worker-focused initiatives that strengthen the skills and capacity of workers, which can lead to improved efficiency, productivity and worker satisfaction.
Experts by Experience: As a direct response to the growing number of group faintings in factories, we launched the “Experts by Experience” initiative in 2012 to call attention to the issue with the help of factory workers who have experienced or observed fainting. These workers now serve as ambassadors to raise awareness about the causes and prevention of group faintings.
Better Factories Cambodia has trained eight “expert” workers in public speaking. These workers have either directly experienced fainting or witnessed fainting and are now informing their peers about the importance of prevention and engaging with the media as part of a broader campaign to prevent fainting incidents. In October 2012, the experts traveled to the Better Factories Cambodia Buyer’s Forum in Vietnam—the first time workers were invited to participate in the forum—to share their experiences and advocate for positive changes to prevent factory faintings.
Radio Labor Law Competition: Many factory workers listen to the radio. We created the Radio Labor Law Competition in 2009 to reach a broad audience of workers and empower them to understand and defend their own rights. The contest attracts a lot of applicants each year who vie for a chance to compete on live radio in a test of international and national labor law knowledge.
In 2014, 239 applications were received from 36 factories. Three finalists reached the final round, and the finale was broadcast live on Yayo FM 105.5 MHz every Friday from 4-5 p.m. This year, Khem Channa from Zheng Yong garment factory was the champion of the competition, followed by Kim Im, the second place winner and Khem Leakena, the third winner.
The One Change Campaign: Good factory conditions play a pivotal role in helping workers stay healthy. Launched in 2012, the One Change Campaign encourages factories to make at least one meaningful change to prevent fainting, such as offering a nutritious snack or creating a system that ensures an acceptable temperature in the factory.
Many factories have successfully earned the “One Change” status by stepping up to the challenge and implementing at least one positive change that promotes worker health and prevents fainting. Others are in the pipeline toward gaining “One Change” status as they begin implementing changes.
Common improvements factories have made include implementing a factory cleaning campaign, ensuring line managers are trained in first aid, creating an anonymous grievance system, and offering either subsidized meals, free breakfast or lunches, tea breaks, or designated canteen space. For more information about the campaign please email email@example.com
Supervisors College: Factory supervisors have the challenging role of balancing workers’ needs with the factory’s business goals. We convened 2,000 supervisors in 2011 for a special training program that helped them build the skills to address daily challenges, including resolving disputes, improving communication with workers, and creating a safe and clean working environment. BBC video on Supervisor’s College
Garment Workers Open University: Workers must know and understand their rights in order to help build productive workplaces. In 2011, we brought together 2,000 workers in a classroom setting to explain the labor law and help workers understand how these labor standards impact them.
Workers spent a full day studying labor contracts, working conditions, occupational health and safety, labor dispute resolution and their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Armed with new knowledge, workers returned to their factories with an ability to recognize whether their factory’s policies adhere to the law. To maximize impact, each of the workers received five copies of our labor law book to share with factory friends.
To watch Garment Worker Open University.
I Am Precious campaign: For many of the nation’s 400,000 garment workers, creativity thrives beyond the factory floor. Many of the workers have the skills but lack the opportunity to show their true potential. The 2007 and 2009 “I Am Precious” campaign teased out untapped talent among workers and provided a chance for them to showcase their skills while bolstering their self-worth and confidence through a dress and T-shirt design contest.
Valuing workers, and helping workers value themselves was the impetus behind the “I Am Precious” campaign. Its success spurred us to organize the campaign again in 2009. The second contest drew 465 participants from 35 factories who submitted a combined 1,100 dress and T-shirt designs. Winners received cash prices, TVs, sewing machines, and bicycles, as well as health insurance and access to reproductive health care.
The campaign was a joint effort between Better Factories Cambodia, the UN Development Program (UNDP), the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and Precious Girl Magazine. The campaign also received support from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, trade unions and international buyers.
Watch video of 2009 “I Am Precious” winner YouTube video link