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Domestic workers call for rights protection

Members of the Cambodian Dosmestic Workers held a press conference yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Members of the Cambodian Dosmestic Workers held a press conference yesterday in Phnom Penh. Soth Koemsoeun

Domestic workers call for rights protection

Domestic workers and NGOs yesterday urged the government to ratify a UN convention to protect domestic workers’ rights and freedoms, and to regulate their working conditions.

Meas Sra Aemphalla, a member of the Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN), said many women were forced to work overtime, did not have time to rest during lunch and were prevented from taking days off.

“When they force me to work overtime, I just want to cry. When I refused to work, they threatened to cut my salary. And when I agreed to work overtime, they said they’d add more money to my salary, but I have never had that,” she said.

Chan Sophal, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said that among 600 domestic workers he interviewed, 92 percent were women, with 65 percent being employed by a foreigner.

Of the interviewees, 11 percent found the work conditions unacceptable, and 83 percent had “not received any insurance”, Sophal said.

He also said some domestic workers complained about being forced to work overtime. Of those who asked for overtime, 18 percent said that they did not receive their extra pay. Almost 20 percent said they did not get holidays.

The Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Women’s Affairs could not be reached yesterday.

Vun Samphors, CDWN president, urged the government to adopt the UN’s Convention 189, known as the Domestic Workers Convention. “They should receive equal rights as other workers,” she said.

William Conklin, country director for worker rights group Solidarity Center, said domestic workers should be recognised because they “contribute importantly to the country”.

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