News

Asian textiles without the exploitation? This Dutch factory shows that it can

Asian textile mills have a bad reputation due to accidents, exploitation, low wages and unhealthy working conditions. In Cambodia proves to be a Dutch factory that can be done.

© Pascal Laureyn

The factory buildings stand around a pond with water lilies, dragonflies fly in and out. The calm water reflects the palm trees on the edge. In the garden laughs a stone statue to the workers. That work focused but relax in airy halls.

This is not an everyday image of a Cambodian factory. Often these are vast halls where hundreds of textielarbeidsters shoulder to shoulder, tormented by the deafening air conditioning. Pactics, a Cambodian company of the Dutchman Piet Holten, proves that it can be different.

Share

Cambodians don’t expect them in a nice factory to work, where the safe is, where holidays to be paid, where they receive training, where childcare is.

Martijn van Rijnsoever, director-general of factory Pactics

Ray-Ban and Armani

“Our factory exceeds the expectations of our employees”, says Martijn van Rijnsoever, the general director of the factory, “Cambodians don’t expect them in a nice factory to work, where the safe is, where holidays to be paid, where they receive training, where child care is.”

Martijn shows the factory halls. Here are lens wipes and brillenhoezen of microfibre produced. The main customer is brillenmaker Luxottica, among others, Ray-Ban, Oakley and Armani in his merkenarsenaal.

The modern buildings with human dimensions are around green spots built. Inside there is daylight and natural ventilation for the workers. The canteen is a cosy meeting place.

In one of the rooms of his female workers – and more workers – brillendoekjes to the printing, folding and packaging. “The people deserve a decent. They get a minimum amount of $ 145 per month, on top of that, they are per piece extra. The fastest earn more than $ 200 per month,” says van Rijnsoever. The minimum wage in Cambodia is 153 dollars.

Also read: ‘Western sweatshops: 3 pounds per hour in Leicester’

Modern buildings. Human dimensions. And many green spots. Pactics, the Cambodian company of the Dutchman Piet Holten, distinguishes itself from the typical Asian textile mills. © Pascal Laureyn

3 percent more expensive

The 400 employees will get not only a decent wage. In addition to the training and babysitting / child services, employees of Pactics also cheap meals and a wash for their vehicle. All buildings are accessible for wheelchair users, no unnecessary luxury in a country where landmines still victims.

Van Rijnsoever denies that an expensive image campaign. “The secret is that the extra’s for the staff not at all cost much. It is mostly about good planning. It is slightly more expensive to build than a conventional plant. But if you in the beginning, think about the extra facilities need not to be expensive. Our products cost only 3 percent more,” he calculated.

Share

This is not a expensive image campaign’. The extras for the staff cost is not much. It is more economical for everyone.

Martijn van Rijnsoever, director-general of factory Pactics

The nursery of Pactics has space for 16 children. There are now 8 babies to sleep in the nursery, under the watchful eye of three caregivers. “It costs us nothing. It is precisely low-cost. The mothers do not need year unemployed to stay at home with their child. After three months, they come back to work. And we have no replacement search and train.”

Create opportunities

Sok Mean works in the product development department of Pactics. She does not conform to the clichébeeld of the textielarbeidster to a sewing machine. She is one of the first female industrial engineers of the country. “I am but 6 years of school, then I had to go to work.”

She was able to study thanks to a grant from Pactics. First she was refused in the engineers because they are women. Sok Mean, eventually repeating the best results of the class. “It was my dream to become an engineer. But I had never expected that I would have the opportunity.” Now, she gives her knowledge to the colleagues.

Sok Mean works in the product development department of Pactics. She is, thanks to a grant from the Dutch company, one of the first female industrial engineers in Cambodia: “I had never expected that I have this opportunity.” © Pascal Laureyn

Van Rijnsoever shows the bedrijfsbibliotheek, sponsored by an ngo. The manager is talking during his guided tour of the labor law, sustainability, development and security. That are concepts that in other Asian factories are rarely used. “We want to prove that a factory at the same time, competitive and socially responsible.”

Epicenter of the Cambodian textile industry

Therefore, Pactics is not located in Phnom Penh established, however, the epicenter of the Cambodian textile industry. The location is perhaps the most particular to this factory. Siem Reap is a well known tourist Angkor Wat and many other temples. But Cambodians know it as one of the poorest provinces of the country, far away from the ‘supply chain’ in Phnom Penh. Pactics is the only factory in the city.

Share

The factory is located in Siem Reap. And that is unique. It is a poor province where normally only tourism and agriculture for jobs. There is a lot of young people no other option than to go to the big city and pulling in a factory to go to work.

“Here in Siem Reap, there is only agriculture and tourism. But not everyone is suitable,” says van Rijnsoever. “There is a lot of young people no other option than to go to the big city and pulling in a factory to go to work. There, they live in poor conditions, far away from the family. Actually interrupt them in their lives, but to earn money.”

“We have the factory to the people. Here they are at home in the evening and they eat together with the family. That gives peace and stability.”

According to him, the absenteeism rate less than 1 percent in Phnom Penh is that much higher. Also the staff turnover is lower than the Cambodian average. “That is good for the cohesion and the motivation, and productivity.”

The only disadvantage of a branch in Siem Reap transport. It takes an extra day to supply the goods.

A different culture

If the cost for the extra facilities are so low and the benefits so numerous, why are other factories the example of Pactics not? “It has to do with managementcultuur. In Asia that runs a little behind.”

Share

The managementcultuur in Asia is lagging behind. Belgian and Dutch factories made 50 years ago click: safety is important.

Martijn van Rijnsoever, director-general of factory Pactics

Van Rijnsoever points to security as an example. “In the Belgian and Dutch factories of 50 years ago happened in a lot of accidents. Until we make them safer. That click here must still be made, but that may take a couple of generations.”

It is 5 hours. The gate will open, and dozens of motorcycles of bumping over the dirt road to the house. A wavy sea blue helmets, the merkkleur of Pactics. To wearing helmets to encourage, the staff of the hat at a discounted price.

“Beautiful factories are the future”

Pactics is investing in its establishment, while many textile manufacturers do not. As the market is evolving and is too expensive in Cambodia, they can without much of a loss to a cheaper country to move to. “That reflection, we do too sometimes. But ideally we want to stay here. The wages to rise in Cambodia, but they do that everywhere,” he acknowledges.

Share

Move to a cheaper country? We continue to prefer here. The wages to rise in Cambodia, but they do that everywhere.

Martijn van Rijnsoever, director-general of factory Pactics

“The more complex our products, the more added value. The labour costs are less decisive. We are working now. Perhaps there is soon needed a new factory, even better than this. We believe that beautiful plants in the future.”

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular