The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has announced that it will provide 20,000 jobs in the domestic market to migrant workers who have returned from Thailand.
The ministry’s National Employment Agency (NEA) will facilitate job placement in various industrial sectors including manufacturing, service, construction and agriculture.
The NEA will seek to implement measures introduced by Prime Minister Hun Sen to create local employment opportunities for returning workers to ease their transitions in coming home, allowing them to reunite with their families and avoiding a need to migrate again for work.
The agency has formed a working group across the capital and provinces tasked with registering and regularly monitoring the living situations of migrants who have returned from Thailand through border checkpoints.
Officials must collect individuals’ personal information and assist them with registering in the agency’s database so that they can seek domestic employment after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
NEA director Hay Hunleng told The Post on January 10 that arranging jobs for these workers was a matter of moral prerogative which required creating conditions that enable them to re-enter the job market. Securing domestic jobs would help them successfully transition upon return to their homes.
“Employment is an important, practical need for these migrant workers in order for them to reconnect with society, their families and the job market. These measures by the government provide encouragement and social protection, allowing them to start life again in the Cambodian job market,” he said.
Hunleng added that the NEA welcomed the returning nationals and would be prepared to introduce them to job opportunities upon their completion of quarantine in accordance with rules established by the Ministry of Health.
Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights programme manager Khun Tharo said that in the current context of the pandemic, securing work was a priority for affected people in all countries, regardless of whether or not they were migrant workers. There have also been pervasive job losses across the tourism and service sectors, among other impacted industries, he said.
“It’s important to ensure that jobs are sustainable over a long term and provide solid insurance of social protection. Good labour conditions can raise their livelihoods properly with decent wages,” Tharo said.
He added that programmes to develop soft skills and professional vocational skills should respond to needs in the domestic market in order to ensure effective job placements. Social assistance should also be provided for workers in training in order to enable full participation, especially among youths.
National Trade Union Coalition president Far Saly applauded initiatives to secure work for those who had lost their jobs in Thailand.
“This is a good opportunity for them to start jobs when they finish quarantine. What worries us, though, is the question, what jobs are there for them? People all over lack jobs because labour contracts have been suspended.”
He pointed to factory and construction workers who were left jobless after the outbreak of Covid-19 and wondered how the labour ministry would fulfil such an ambitious commitment. If so many jobs could really be arranged, however, he hoped that people would not feel compelled to return to work in Thailand.
The NEA’s announcement claimed that jobs for returning workers were available across many industries, and agency officials were coordinating with authorities at all local levels to collate and analyse data on returning migrants in order to more easily facilitate connecting them with appropriate work in a timely manner.
Agents must reach out to labourers at each quarantine centre to coordinate with them about available employment opportunities. They are also tasked with organising employers and investors to create sufficient positions to provide full employment for those who need it.
The NEA noted that if any migrant workers are not informed of job opportunities by members of the working group, they can communicate directly with any of 13 job centres established in Phnom Penh or the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampot, Pursat, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham and Stung Treng.