The government was yesterday accused of dragging its feet after claiming it needed more time to ratify the International Labour Organization’s convention on protecting domestic worker rights.
Speaking after two days of talks with government officials, Cambodian Domestic Workers Network deputy Vong Samphous questioned the Ministry of Labour’s commitment to the country’s 240,000 domestic workers, with authorities again balking at signing the international standards.
“We created the Domestic Worker Network nearly three years ago to demand the government ratify the convention, but they still haven’t,” Samphous said. “We need it to ensure domestic workers have the same rights as workers in other sectors.”
Following the meeting, which also involved UN representatives and ILO staff, Ministry of Labour Secretary of State Hou Vuthy affirmed his department would ratify convention 189 – adopted by the ILO in 2011 – but failed to specify a time frame.
“We need the time to do it step by step before we ratify it,” Vuthy said. “But we pledge to work on it as soon as possible.’
He said the ministry would develop legislation to protect the rights of workers after it ratified the ILO convention.
According a 2012 survey by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, domestic workers receive salaries of between $25 and $60. About 10 per cent of 1,017 families interviewed by the CDRI in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap had a member employed as a domestic worker.
Samphous said those in the sector, including cooks, maids, babysitters and drivers, were vulnerable to exploitation.
“Factory workers’ salaries, working hours and holidays are taken care of by the law, but for domestic workers, there is nothing to protect us,” she said.