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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Concerns arise over Cambodian labourers wages

Concerns arise over Cambodian labourers wages

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Cambodian construction worker brick-laying in Beeline Arena site.

Cambodia construction workers are paid substantially less than Vietnamese workers for performing the same job, according to industry insiders. 

The daily wage for Cambodian construction workers is 20 to 33 per cent less than the daily payment made to Vietnamese workers in the same sector.

The skill and experience levels of Cambodian and Vietnamese workers differ, according to CSA Construction Co engineer, Chea Chib. Generally, Vietnamese workers are faster and more punctual, however, the quality of output by Cambodian workers is usually better, he said.

“The work of Cambodian [workers] is better than Vietnamese workers, because we focus more on [producing] high quality work,” Chea Chib said.

Unskilled Cambodian workers earn approximately US$4 per day, compared to unskilled Vietnamese labourers who can earn $5, he added.

Skilled Cambodian workers make $10 per day, while Vietnamese counterparts rare paid up to US$15 each day. Chea Chib added that while payments received by Cambodian labourers are sufficient given the current economic climate, there needs to be more equilibrium with Vietnamese worker’s wages.  

“They think Vietnamese workers work more efficiently. They think Khmer workers are not adequately skilled in construction work but in fact, they appear to be the same [skill level],” President of the Cambodian National Federation of Building and Woodworkers Sok Sovandeith said.

He added that 90 per cent of Khmer construction workers are faced with unsafe working conditions, leaving them susceptible to accident and injury. Sok Sovandeith urged the Ministry of Labour to inspect construction sites where workers are without safety gear.

The total number of licensed construction workers nationwide soared 42.65 per cent year-on-year in 2011, hitting about 393,000, according to figures released by the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction.

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