At a workshop on Decent work in Cambodia – social security principle for workingers (2019-2023), union officials claimed Cambodians still lacked decent working conditions.
Around 150 representatives from union federations, confederations and associations took part in the workhop on Monday in Phnom Penh.
The workshop was held to gather more than 5,000 union members to create a mechanism for negotiating decent working conditions for Cambodian workingers.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) wanted the government to focus on the welfare of workers in the informal economy.
Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn said decent jobs pay workers or employees wages that ensure they have a decent livelihood to support themselves.
Additionally, the workplace must have safety measures and offers social protection. Workers and employees must not be oppressed and have enough rest time.
However, Thorn said Cambodia has not fully implemented decent working conditions for its people nationwide, while some decent working mechanisms had just been implemented in certain sectors, but have not comprehensively achieved their objectives.
“Cambodians do not fully enjoy decent working conditions. We implemented a programme towards decent working conditions as per the definition of ILO. Cambodia has strengthened only three points, such as the social security scheme that was implemented recently but has not functioned well.
“Meanwhile, rights in the workplace have decreased significantly after the law on trade union [was adopted]. And, there is also the issue of decent working conditions and job opportunities for youths and women.”
Cambodia has signed a memorandum of agreement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a memorandum of understanding with the ILO to implement Decent Working Program from 2019 to 2023.
The country has to focus mainly on three priorities – improvement of occupation and work, strengthening and expanding social protection as well as health and work safety, which will improve industrial relations and labour rights.
ILO national coordinator Tun Sophorn said so far, the government had made a lot of progress in creating job opportunities for Cambodians.
However, he said the efforts were not enough because a vital factor is directing focus towards key issues like decent wages and social protection through the implementation of rights to take leave for medical treatment, giving birth and working-related accidents.
The expansion of workers’ social protection to other sectors, such as the informal economy is necessary because, in the past, people who worked in small or medium enterprises did not have decent working conditions.
Sophorn said: “Workers in the garment sector enjoy more decent working conditions than other sectors as a minimum wage is set by the law while no [minimum] wage is set in other sectors.
“Workers in other sectors also want to have a [minimum] wage that is set by law. In today’s meeting, the unions may raise proposals to the government and employers in expanding [decent working conditions] to other sectors.”
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post that the ministry and ILO have jointly implemented the Decent Working Programme 2019-2023, in which the ministry has steps in each phase to implement the mechanism of decent working conditions for Cambodians.
He said: “We will implement as per what we have agreed, in which we have indicators to measure progress each year.”
Sophorn said around 10 million Cambodians have jobs but only two million are registered in the Kingdom’s social protection service.