Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Domestic worker convention adopted

Domestic worker convention adopted

Domestic worker convention adopted

Cambodia has supported an “historic” international convention that has earned praise from rights groups for setting the first global standards for domestic work.

The treaty passed overwhelmingly on Friday at a meeting of International Labour Organisation member states in Geneva.

The convention calls on all ILO member states to provide protection for an estimated 53 to 100 million people, mostly women and girls, who work in private homes around the world.

Reasonable working hours, a minimum wage and time off were some of the standards adopted, the ILO said in a statement on Friday. Such measures would have to be ratified by parliament before they could be legally binding.

An Bunhak, director of the Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said it was too early for Cambodia to ratify the treaty, claiming such a move would “destroy the harmony” between employers and domestic workers.

He said households employing domestic workers “consider them as a member of the family” and often provided support for education or vocational training. “Our culture is different,” he said.

If domestic workers were brought under the labour law, he warned, such benefits could cease and wages would not be sufficient to support education and living expenses in cities such as Phnom Penh.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said it was  “very seldom” that domestic workers in Cambodia, many of whom were children, actually attended school.
Moreover, employers paid them “based on their favour”, rather than a contractual obligation, leaving the door open for abuse, he said.

A number of recent allegations that Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia have been abused by both their employers and the recruitment firms that train them have highlighted a gap in worker protections.

An Bunhak said Cambodia should urge Malaysia – which expressed opposition to a legally binding agreement and abstained from the vote in Geneva – to ratify the convention.

An estimated 30,000 Cambodians are employed as domestic workers in Malaysia.

Eni Lestari, chair of the International Migrants’ Alliance, said a refusal by Cambodia to ratify the convention might  become an obstacle if it asked Malaysia to do so or adopt a bilateral agreement with adequate protections for Cambodian domestic workers.

Officials at the Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman