Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - AEC presents migrant hurdles

AEC presents migrant hurdles

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Migrant workers wait at Poipet’s international border checkpoint in 2014 before crossing into Thailand. Hong Menea

AEC presents migrant hurdles

With cross-border flows of migrant workers rapidly increasing since the founding of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, industry insiders claim that this change has had both positive and negative effects on the Kingdom by reducing the levels of unemployment while highlighting the need for greater protections of worker rights.

At a panel hosted by the Global Alumni Convention in Phnom Penh over the weekend, experts in the labour industry gathered to discuss the AEC and the recent signing of the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, an agreement inked by the 10-nation bloc last week.

The agreement aims to ensure that greater safeguards are adopted by member states to protect foreign labourers.

Hong Choeun, director general of the National Employment Agency, said that he was supportive of the new AEC agreement but added that this was just the first step in stopping the large amount of abuses many migrant workers face.

“The agreement is a springboard to protect migrant labourers,” he said. “There is much still to be done.”Sok Lor, partner at law firm Sok Xing and Hwang, stressed both the importance of creating and the difficulties of enforcing migrant worker rights laws.

“From a legal perspective, it’s complicated. Labour migration has been notorious because workers often face mistreatment,” he said. “Many workers could not keep their own passports, did not have access to local or national social welfare programmes and may not have even had the ability to move.”

“The entire chain of issues requires regulations [to be followed] by all countries,” he said.

Documenting and licencing migrant workers is crucial to ending maltreatment, he added. Still, important as protections of workers across borders might be, he said that in the short-term, it is best for Cambodian workers to remain inside of the Kingdom.

“I think in the long-term, migrant labour is a good thing because it helps to reduce poverty,” he said. “But we are desperate for foreign capital in order to boost our economy. [Investors] often come because of the advantage of low cost labour, so we need our workers to be here.”

Hing Vutha, head of the economics unit at local think tank Cambodia Development Resource Institute, noted that while Cambodian workers often migrated for higher wages, he stressed the fact that many workers are still unable to escape the cycle of poverty.

“The impact of migrant labour from the provinces has been mixed. In many cases, [Cambodian] migrant labourers have more food and better housing than they did in the provinces,” he said. “But often, their children drop out of school. They have a choice, and most choose not to send their daughters to be educated for long.”

The Phnom Penh Post is the media partner of the Global Alumni Convention.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”