To us, ethical labor is much more than just one thing. No matter our staff or country, we believe in flexible work places and happy work spaces. The manufacturing industry is rife with terrible conditions and we want no part of that.
We have a team in rural Cambodia where we decided to dedicate our resources to crafting a positive, safe, relaxed small workplace. Everybody rides their bikes to work. At any time you can see how chilled out it is here; work is very easygoing. To us, ethical labor here means:
1. Salaries above industry standard & minimum wage (the more we earn, the more we can pay)
2. Salary-based pay (not pay-per-goods produced quotas which is how most other businesses operate)
3. 7.5 hour working days with a 2 hour lunch break Monday to Friday (not 7 day weeks with 10 – 12 hours per day as standard in manufaturing)
4. Updated machines (or new ones replacing manual labor). We love handmade and don’t support mass scale machine manufacturing, but not everything has to be so hard. Instead of wringing coconuts with hands for oil for example, we purchased a small device to make this a lot easier. The sewing machines were out of date and made stitching on some of our products extremely laborious so we bought new ones (that are second-hand from Japan) that did the job a lot better. Sanding is much easier not having to do it by hand.
5. 3 months maternity leave
6. Health insurance & transport accident insurance
7. Skills training
8. Clean drinking water station & local snacks provided
9. Safe area for kids so they can come visit & hang out or be fed and looked after
10. Garden area, free herbs to take home and plants in the studio for feel-good
11. Free pads whenever needed (we have reusable washables available)
12. No burning plastics. Containers, plates, lunch table & cutlery provided.
13. An organized space that’s clean, has structure and is easy to work in.
14. Cambodia has a lot of public holidays. More than nearly any other country (so many the government is actually considering reducing them from 2020 as they cause quite a few issues with international business). We fully support holidays and are no fans of the capitalist world we’ve all created with non-stop work and well not enough time for leisure! The intriguing thing with Cambodian holidays is that the big ones are often long. Even though it might only be 2 or 3 days officially, everybody takes a couple of days off before, and after, for cooking, cleaning, having visitors, heading back to home provinces, going to the pagoda more etc, quickly turning these holidays into 5 – 8 day affairs. A bit like having merry season a couple of days a week! We want to support time off as much as we can whilst balancing the needs of a small business and our tiny margins. All up then, our staff annually take approximately 4 weeks paid leave for public holidays. They also have paid sick days and an additional paid leave week so all-in-all staff have 5 – 7 weeks paid leave each year.