An estimated 200 members of construction sector unions gathered in front of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on Sunday to deliver petitions asking for issues facing construction workers to be addressed.
Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) president Sok Kin, while delivering petitions to the ministry on Sunday, said Cambodian construction workers were facing many health and safety issues at work, with some losing their lives and others being disabled.
Kin said a lack of legal protection in the workplace was a principal factor in such incidents.
“Because there is no responsibility, we now raise all the issues and submit [them] to the ministry for consideration. There are certain issues that can be resolved for the workers."
“We have seen that the Social Security Fund [NSSF] programme was approved and we hope that the ministry can expand its scope to include construction workers because this is very important and what our workers want."
“So please, ministry – look at the issues. [The ministry] should expand the scope [of the NSSF] and lower the accident rate among Cambodian construction workers,” he said.
‘Workers are vulnerable’
Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn said at the gathering on Sunday that protection for the Kingdom’s construction workers was still poor. Construction workers faced greater risks than employees in other sectors, including factories.
“Construction workers are vulnerable – some employers do not employ enough safety standards. Some workers work in high places without proper equipment. I’ve have asked workers . . . and a great deal of them do not have legal protection. There are a lot of potential hazards for construction workers,” Thorn said.
He said the unions’ joint petitions contained certain points, including calling on the government – through the ministry – to announce a basic salary for construction workers, with another demanding the construction sector be included in the NSSF programme. Another related to the management and inspection of sub-contractors.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on Sunday that the ministry had received the unions’ petitions and was currently in discussions with involved parties to address the issues raised.
“The ministry held a forum with the unions on Thursday, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to study [and] find solutions to challenges in the construction sector,” he said.
According to union leaders, there are more than 200,000 construction workers in the Kingdom, with only 10 per cent receiving state protection. In contrast, there are more than 900,000 garment workers, of which 90 per cent work in safe conditions and have received state protection.