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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting