WITH thousands of Cambodians being laid off as industries hit by the global economic recession downsize, the government is looking to Kuwait to provide work for Cambodians.
The government has signed legislation paving the way for state-approved private recruitment agencies to broker contracts with employers in Kuwait for Cambodians to work there, said Oum Mean, a secretary of state at the Labour Ministry.
Meanwhile, the ministry, he said, has been in ongoing talks with Kuwaiti employers to discuss the Arab state's labour needs. "We're still figuring out the standards and demands of employers there," he said.
Cambodian recruitment agencies will be required to provide Cambodians basic labour training and educate them about the culture and laws of their host country before they depart, he said.
While no Cambodian laws protect nationals working abroad, recruitment agencies have protection clauses in their contracts with foreign employers, he said. They could also seek assistance from the Cambodian embassy in Kuwait City, which opened last December.
He said maid services, garment work and low-skill labour in the oil industry are the most likely jobs Cambodians could fill in Kuwait.
The need for a market to absorb Cambodians pushed out of employment is growing by the month. There have been 51,000 layoffs in the garment sector alone since late 2008, when the global recession started to hit in Cambodia, according to Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh. The dire global economy will affect nearly half a million Cambodians in 2008 and more than a million Cambodians in 2009, according to International Labour Organisation research in February.
The Council of Ministers last Friday ruled to forward to the National Assembly a proposal to formalise labour-exchange agreements between Cambodia and Kuwait.