An agreement lifting the ban on recruitment agencies sending Cambodian citizens to Malaysia to work as maids will be signed at the end of this month or early next year.
Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng told reporters on Wednesday that he will fly to Malaysia to sign the agreement, effectively ending the 2011 ban of recruitment firms training and sending Cambodian maids to the neighbouring country for domestic work. The change will come in time for Cambodia’s 2015 entrance to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
“I will fly [to Malaysia] to sign the agreement, to once again send Cambodian maids to work in Malaysia on time for 2015, when we will be joining the ASEAN Economic Community,” Sam Heng said.
“[This comes] after we finished discussions at the expert level to protect our maids.”
Cambodia barred recruiting firms from sending domestic workers to work in Malaysia after revelations of a number of cases in which maids suffered severe abuse at the hands of their employers and were sometimes prevented to leave by employers who held their passports.
The ban followed allegations of the gang rape of a domestic worker trying to escape Malaysia, suspicious deaths of maids in their employers’ houses and raids of recruitment firms in Cambodia that turned up underage recruits in three training centres in 2011.
Currently, 17,000 Cambodians work across several industries in Malaysia.
As part of the agreement, Cambodians who travel to Malaysia for work will be paid salaries analogous to those of Malaysians in the same industry, Sam Heng said. The equal pay stipulation goes beyond domestic work, to sectors spanning engineering to tourism.
News of the coming agreement was welcomed by Mom Monita, head of the Cambodian Migrant Worker’s Solidarity Network in Malaysia.
“We have waited for this agreement,” Monita said yesterday. “It will soon protect those of us who work in Malaysia from abuse; the law will protect us.”