Non-profits Oxfam and the Laudes Foundation are collaborating with four non-governmental organizations and trade unions on a new project to promote comprehensive social protection for Cambodian garment workers.
The 'Inclusive National Social Protection Initiatives that Respond to the Needs of Garment Industry Employees' (INSPIRE) initiative of Oxfam and the Laudes Foundation seeks to assist the Royal Government of Cambodia in developing inclusive social protection for employees in Cambodia's apparel sector.
It has launched in response to multiple studies indicating that access to social protection among clothing sector employees, particularly contract workers, remained a major difficulty, despite the Royal Government of Cambodia's and stakeholders' strong commitment.
The project's goal is to make clothing sector employees and households less vulnerable by improving access to the National Social Security Fund and other social protection services.
Current issues, which are claimed to be especially severe for female contract employees, include a lack of awareness regarding social protection programs and benefits, a lack of compliance among garment industry employers, and the quality of services given and available to apparel industry workers.
Both Oxfam and the Laudes Foundation, which work on inequities ranging from poverty to climate change, think that these obstacles have jeopardized Cambodia's government's commitment and effort to deepen and expand the country's coverage of comprehensive social safeguards.
The initiative is anticipated to directly help 23,000 Cambodians and indirectly benefit 735,000, with the goal of reaching one million people through public awareness campaigns, position papers, evidence-based research, and other communication efforts.
It is also being implemented collaboratively by four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trade unions: the Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).
The main objective of the INSPIRE project is to contribute to Cambodia's efforts to eliminate poverty and inequality by strengthening the social protection system.
Oxfam and the Laudes Foundation think that the project will help to boost coverage and access to gender transformational social protection for clothing sector employees. It will also improve trade unions' ability to represent and negotiate employees' social protection needs and entitlements.
Trade unions will also be assisted in influencing social protection policy outcomes through meaningful involvement in national multi-stakeholder dialogues and decision-making meetings, tripartite dialogues, and Oxfam's existing social protection for all (SP4ALL) platform. The program will give workers in the garment sector in 12 provinces and municipalities greater access to social security systems and benefits, as well as information, and will make service providers more accountable. According to the two non-profits, it will also assist the Royal Government of Cambodia in incorporating a gender-transformative social protection strategy into its social protection policy intervention.
Oxfam’s national director Sophoan Phean, said that Oxfam is dedicated to working with and supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia and stakeholders to decrease poverty and inequality among clothing sector employees, particularly those in informal arrangements, the majority of whom are women. Access to social protection is vital for them and their households because it helps them maintain their well-being, create resilience, and lessen the danger of global shocks or pandemics.
Jill Tucker, the Laudes Foundation's director of labor rights, said that contributory social security systems like the NSSF enhance the social contract and create a foundation for employees to seek help and protection when they encounter illness, occupational accidents, or economic shocks. To fulfill this promise, workers' views must be properly represented and reflected in policy conversations. They hope that by collaborating with Oxfam on the INSPIRE campaign, Cambodian clothing sector workers will be able to obtain the benefits they are entitled to under the NSSF.
The non-profits emphasize Cambodia's government's commitment to social protection for all and the development of a resilient and inclusive society. Its NSSF system, in particular, is considered to assist employees in the garment sector significantly. Indeed, the organizations say that in 2020 alone, 80,000 female garment workers got government maternity payments totaling US$7.9 million.
Oxfam and the Laudes Foundation, along with their partners, will work closely with several strategic partners, including the National Social Protection Council (NSPC), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF), and Ministry of Women's Affairs, to implement the necessary changes (MoWA). It will also engage worldwide brand corporations, employers in the garment sector, and other stakeholders in order to improve and defend inclusive social protection for apparel industry employees throughout the Kingdom.
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