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Labour shortage in Cambodia's garment industry

Cambodia's garment factories face a shortage of workers, because of migration, more job opportunities in different sectors and poor labour conditions, industry experts said.

According to Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia, there is a definite shortage of labour in Phnom Penh’s garment factories.

Sophorn Tun, national co-ordinator of the International Labour Organisation in Cambodia, said factories face problems finding enough workers to fulfil their production.

“We have a lot of factories approach the national employment agency seeking assistance to help them find workers to for their production,” he said.

According to Hay Hunleng, advisor at the National Employment Agency (NEA), the garment companies or factories working with the NEA at the moment are looking to recruit 3,720 workers and the NEA helped them to recruit 1,439. “In general, I would say that the garment industry is still needing many more workers,” he said.

According to Sophorn Tun, a lot of people, including Cambodian garment workers, migrate to Thailand where the minimum wage has been raised recently.

“That is one incentive that a lot of young people tend to migrate to work in Thailand, even in the same industry,” he said.

He said a lot of investment is coming into Cambodia now, establishing a more diverse job market with more sectors that can absorb workers and provide other employment opportunities for job seekers.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said factories put out banners with job advertisements in front of the factory on the wall.

“They are looking for workers,” he said.

He said some workers move to another industry or sector. Due to globalisation, generally a lot of people migrate from Cambodia to Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea, he said.

If workers move to other sectors, “we really do not expect the productivity would increase,” he said. “And if the productivity is a problem, its also affects the competitiveness of the country,” he said.

According to David Welsh, country director of the American Center for Labor Solidarity, the fact that jobs need to be filled has a huge impact on the country’s economy, given that the industry and its exports are soaring.

“It’s a crucial industry for the country,” he said.

Cambodia’s total garment and textile exports increased by 10 per cent to $3.44 billion over the first nine months of the year, compared to $3.13 billion over the same period last year, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

 To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at anne.renzenbrink@phnompenhpost.com

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