The Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok has announced that it will conduct visits throughout Thailand to assess the challenges Cambodian workers face and provide them with services at their workplaces or residences.
Ouk Sorphorn, Cambodia’s Ambassador to Thailand, led a delegation on June 7 to visit more than 300 Cambodian workers at a Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited (CPF) chicken processing plant in Nakhon Ratchasima province in northeast Thailand.
He vowed that the embassy maintains its efforts to tackle the problems and challenges Cambodian workers face in Thailand.
Sorphorn said Cambodian workers strive to work hard, save money for their families back home and take better care of their health. He said they ought to learn a specific skill before they return to the Kingdom.
The Embassy’s Facebook page quoted Sorphorn as saying: “The embassy is stepping up its attention to helping Khmer workers. The embassy will organise talks and visits with the workers every weekend and lead counsellors to provide them with services such as renewing passports and directly verifying their documents for their workplaces and residences.”
Following his June 7 visit to the chicken processing plant, he said CPF’s Cambodian workers are well taken care of according to the fair practices under Thai and international labour standards.
He noted that Cambodian workers around the world are key in building and maintaining a labour market for the Kingdom and Asean which is competent at the global level. They also upgrade the living standards of Cambodians back home.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, there are more than one million Cambodians working in Thailand. However, NGOs claim the figure may be as high as two million – if accounting for illegal workers.
Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) executive director Moeun Tola welcomed the move as positive for Cambodian workers in Thailand.
He called on the embassy to persuade the workers to speak up about the issues they face. He claimed they stay silent due to the belief that their Thai employers collude with the Cambodian embassy.
“Direct visits have a couple of benefits. First, they can examine the workers’ conditions in their workplaces and living quarters,” Tola said.
“Second, it concerns the workers’ legality. If their passports have expired, [the embassy will] let them know how to renew them and pay for them."
“So it is a good thing. But what is more important is how they can instil confidence in the workers to let the embassy hear their voices. After they’ve raised all of their grievances, what steps should be taken to help them and solve their dilemmas?” he asked.
Some Cambodian workers continue to face issues such as being paid less than promised or salaries being delayed by the employer. Others have had their passports taken by their employers, Tola said.