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New rules published for labour agencies

THE Labour Ministry published parts of an unfinished draft sub-decree in a local newspaper yesterday, outlining strict regulations that would prohibit recruitment centres from detaining trainees or loaning them money.

Hou Vuthy, deputy director of Work Department at the Ministry of Labour, said that the directive published yesterday reflected many of the regulations that officials hope to include in a new sub-decree that is currently at the draft stage.

He said that although it is not yet law, the directive signed by Seng Sakada, director general at the Labour Ministry, on Tuesday and published as an open letter in Khmer-language newspaper Rasmey Kampuchea yesterday would be strictly enforced.

“If I find out that any company doesn’t obey the [rules], I will warn them the first time to make sure that they respect [them]. However, if they break the rules a second time, I will shut the companies down,” he said yesterday.

Under the new regulations, labour recruitment firms must also submit any advertising material and agreements made between companies and trainees to the Labour Ministry for “examination and approval”.

The new regulations, which came out of a ministry meeting held on Friday last week, follow a spate of complaints against government-sanctioned training centres, accusing them of mistreating and abusing recruits.

Industry concerns
Last month, officials investigated three recruitment firms after trainees claimed they had been illegally detained. Representatives of at least two of the firms said that some trainees had been barred from leaving because company owners were afraid they would break their contracts, or because the company had loaned money to their families.

The new regulations prohibit “forced labour and the act of hiring people to work in order to offset debt”. It also states that causing labourers to “fall into debt with the labour recruitment agency before departing for their job abroad” is prohibited.

Cheng Sithichey, director of AP TSE&C Cambodia Resource Co, a recruitment company that this month agreed to an out-of-court settlement with a woman who claims she was detained by the firm, said yesterday that the new regulations barring loans would benefit both recruitment firms and recruits.

“The companies no longer need to spend money on loans,” he said. “Now the trainees will register with any firm giving them good service, and not those offering a good loan.”

However, he added that the new regulations might prevent very poor people from access the training programmes.

“It makes it more difficult for those poor trainees who can’t afford transportation to the city,” he said.



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