A recent study claimed that temporary housing on construction sites across Cambodia did not meet the minimum sanitary standards or the needs of workers and their family members, while most construction companies do not abide by legally required procedures.
The findings were revealed on Thursday, as some 50 workers, union members, government officials and construction company representatives attended a meeting about a study of water and sanitation problems facing construction workers and other challenges they encountered.
The meeting served to find solutions and improve upon the prevailing conditions.
The report, entitled Assessment of Washing Facilities at Temporary Housing on Construction Sites, was issued by the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC).
It is the result of surveys and discussions with 29 focus groups at 17 construction sites in Phnom Penh and two provinces.
The report referenced Cambodian labour laws that govern the construction sector, and environmental protection laws that require adequate sanitation, a healthy environment and acceptable living conditions in temporary housing at construction sites.
The laws specify a minimum number of toilets – with bathroom facilities separated by gender – and required sanitation standards. Toilets must be cleaned and maintained regularly, while the laws demand that construction workers have access to drinking water.
The report found that none of the construction sites assessed in Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces met the stipulated clean water or hygiene standards.
“A limited number of toilets results in open urination and defecation. Bathing, too, is a matter of concern for many women as bathing stations are in the open and shared with the men,” the report said.
It also raised concerns about the lack of hygiene and a shortage of food, with workers’ expenses higher than their income.
Tuot Vuthy, 46, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, told The Post that living areas and sanitation did not meet the required standards.
He said most temporary housing comprised tents close to construction sites, there was a shortage of drinking water, toilets were in poor condition and lacked privacy, and workers sometimes had to walk long distances to defecate.
“The [temporary] housing for workers is never a good place to stay. It’s very chaotic – not like our own houses. It does not meet standards like normal housing,” Vuthy said.
Vuthy and several construction workers asked the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and other relevant institutions to solve the problem by ordering companies to take good care of workers and visit construction sites every three months.
BWTUC president Sok Kin said: “Construction workers have to pay for everything and their wages are very low which makes it difficult for them to live.
“Besides the problems with living areas, clean drinking water is another problem because it is seriously affecting their health.”