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Uniforms, ID cards to curb trafficking

AGENTS working for licensed labour recruitment firms will from January be required to wear uniforms and carry identity cards in a bid to differentiate them from unlicensed brokers.

An Bun Hak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said the move – a joint initiative of the Labour Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the ACRA –  came in response to a recent spate  of cases involving trafficked or abused migrant workers.

“We learnt about why there were always problems with the workers and then we found that 90 percent were caused by recruitment,” An Bun Hak said.

He said unlicensed brokers often provided their recruits with false information.

There were always problems with the workers ... we found that 90 percent were caused by recruitment.

“For example, the cheaters tell them that they can get higher salaries and easy work, but what they [end up doing abroad is different] from what they were told before they go to work.”
The words “Legal Recruitment Agency” will be emblazoned across the back of the shirts, which will also bear the name and website address of the individual firm the agent works for, he said. Identity cards will display the names of the agents, as well as their company name, a card number and an expiry date.

An Bun Hak said ACRA and relevant ministries will launch a public awareness campaign so that people will be able to recognise licensed agents. Information will also be provided to police and other authorities, he said.

“This process will be successful with cooperation with the Labour Ministry, which is the main ministry responsible for workers who work abroad, and the police and authorities following the recruitment firms, [who can] see which are legally and illegally recruiting,” he said.

Hou Vudthy, deputy director of the Labour Ministry’s Employment and Manpower Department, said uniforms would only be issued to agents working for companies approved by the ministry.

“I think that this uniform is important because it is to [help people] easily recognise … private labour recruiting companies’ agents or staff when they are going to recruit workers at cities or provinces,” he said.

He said he was optimistic that the initiative would help eliminate problems that he said were largely caused by unlicensed brokers.  

“It can ... prevent our people from being defrauded, cheated or trafficked by bad people,” he said.

Lim Mony, deputy director of the Women and Children’s Rights Programme at the rights group Adhoc, said it was possible that the uniforms could help people identify and utilise safe migration procedures. But she noted that it would not replace the need for vigilance from local officials.

“Some people don’t notice the uniform so much and what is most important is that the local authorities have to research so they know the companies clearly,” she said, adding that it would be best if local authorities were routinely involved in the recruitment process.

An Bun Hak said there are currently 30 licensed recruitment firms operating in Cambodia through which 8,086 migrant workers were sent to Thailand, and 14,339 to Malaysia in the first 10 months of the year.

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