Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Number working abroad drops

Number working abroad drops

Labourers work at a construction site in Phnom Penh last week
Labourers work at a construction site in Phnom Penh last week. HENG CHIVOAN

Number working abroad drops

The number of Cambodian labourers legally working abroad dropped 30 per cent, from nearly 17,000 in the first six months of 2012 to about 12,000 for the first half of this year, according to government statistics.

Notably, there were declines in Thailand and South Korea, where the vast majority of legal migrants work, a report from the government news site Agence Kampuchea Presse said.

Thailand’s figures declined by 30 per cent, from 10,583 to 7,420 workers, while the number of Cambodians employed in South Korea dropped by 27 per cent, from 6,187 to 4,503.

The government attributed this to improved working conditions in Cambodia.

“In addition to garment factories, we have got new flows of electronics and automotive manufacturers. Those are demanding many workers and providing higher wages,” Oum Mean, secretary of state of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said.

The real picture of labour migration, however, may be more difficult to quantify.

Malaysia, for instance, saw a dramatic 59 per cent decrease in workers over the given period, according to the stats. But the well-documented abuse of Cambodian maids at the hands of their Malaysian employers was not offered as a potential cause for the drop-off.

Then there is the challenge in assessing movements of illegal or irregular workers. Mean said the number of these migrants working outside Cambodia was difficult to calculate, but said he’d observed a decline, as workers were more aware of risks associated with illegally migrating abroad.

“In Thailand over the past 10 years, they have had windows for irregular migrants to get regular status. In the past couple of years these windows have been open,” said Max Tunon with the International Labour Organization in Bangkok, referring to Thailand’s national verification process, under which Cambodian migrants can be granted valid work permits in Thailand.

“That provides some incentives for migrants to use irregular channels rather than the licensed recruitment agencies.”

In January, Thailand nationalised its minimum wage, granting workers anywhere in the country, as opposed to just in urban areas, a minimum daily pay of $10. The move, Tunon said, provided an incentive for those who didn’t want to migrate lengthy distances for a better wage.

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh