9 December 2015.
Phnom Penh – “The ILO’s radio competition on labour law has opened a new chapter in my life. I became another person with self-confidence both at the workplace and in daily life,” said, Ms. Chheoun Channy, a 32-year-old garment worker, six months after she won the competition
Ms Chheoun Channy, from Kompong Chhnang province in Cambodia, wished to work at a local organization that helps orphanage children and vulnerable women since she was young. She believed that this job would contribute to the development of society; however, her dream has never been fulfilled because her parents did not have enough money to pursue further education.
In 2004, Channy had to drop out of school while she was just in grade 9 and travelled to Phnom Penh to work at a garment factory in order to financially support her family. She has worked at the garment factory for approximately 12 years now. Being a garment worker, she always thought that she or her life were not important to the people around her, but that feeling changed recently.
The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia organizes every year a radio competition on labour law among garment workers.The competition is designed to generate awareness on different aspects of the law and their implications for day-to-day life, with a particular focus on garment workers.
Ms. Channy applied to join the sixth edition of the radio competition and was selected from a pool of 415 applicants from different factories to compete in an elimination-style contest of three rounds during ten weeks that culminated in November 2015 at radio station Vayo FM 105.5 MHz.
To prepare for the contest, Ms. Channy has worked very hard every day. She spent a lot time reading Cambodian labour law book, and other regulations that were distributed by Better Factories Cambodia both at home and the workplace. Whenever she did not understand any point, she consulted with workers’ representative or looked at the ILO’s Guide to Cambodian Labour Law Book compiled by BFC. Finally, her persistence paid off. She became the first winner of this competition.
Having participated in the radio competition program, Channy has learnt about many Cambodian labour law issues. She describes that this knowledge was key to boost her confidence at work. She is receiving recognition for her work and knowledge and she is experiencing a better relationship with the factory management.
“When I first worked at factory, I always felt scared and insecure at work, but now, I am another person. I feel that my boss and colleagues appreciate my achievements and are proud of me,” she said, adding that “many colleagues come to ask me about labour law issues. I have shared with them knowledge on occupational safety and health, working hours, rights and responsibilities.”
Ms. Channy lives in a house with her husband and child in Phnom Penh. The public speaking experience she gained from being on the radio competition has not only helped her work, but also improved her family’s relation. She has a better communication and understanding with her husband.
“A life of husband and wife will never be free from conflict, but somehow we can minimize it. The experience of public speaking is something that I learnt from this program, it enabled me to communicate better with my family, improving our relationship.”
Ms. Channy said that she will continue to share the labour law knowledge she learnt through participation in the radio competition with other workers in the future. Her dream job from childhood remains strong, “I am studying English and computer every day. I hope that I can realise my dream to work at a place for disadvantaged children in the near future.”