Domestic workers in Cambodia face a number of challenges ranging from low wages to risk of trafficking, the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) said in a statement marking the 10th International Day of Domestic Workers under the theme Our Values, Our Rights.
IDEA president Vorn Pov said on June 16 that Cambodia had yet to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No 189 for decent work for domestic workers and the Kingdom’s labour law also did not specifically address the workers.
In 2011, ILO adopted Convention No 189, which recognises the rights of all workers. This includes leave, working hours, overtime pay, and appropriate protection against all forms of violence and harassment.
This recognition has become a historic day for domestic workers around the world to celebrate on June 16 every year.
But according to Pov, relevant policies the government has issued did not mention capacity building and any clear mechanism for protecting domestic workers, especially child labourers. Also, a standard employment contract for domestic workers has not been developed.
“So far, domestic workers have not received full coverage and benefits from social protection programmes such as healthcare and occupational risks. At the same time, the strengthening and capacity building of domestic workers is still limited, as domestic workers are not required to be highly skilled like others,” he said.
According to the 2018 ILO study, there were an estimated of 240,000 domestic workers in Cambodia, most of them women who work in cleaning, cooking, care services and gardening, among others.
Pheng Srey, 38, a domestic worker for more than 10 years in Phnom Penh, said domestic workers are still discriminated against and not valued by the outside world and the employer. She said the government seemed to not place high value on them.
“For domestic workers, regardless of the government or the outside world, they give us less value, unlike factory workers. Some employers also do not give us value and rights, such as holidays, no time off and use us whenever they want,” she said.
Srey requested that the government provide a National Social Security Fund (NSSF) card and value domestic workers the same as factory workers and make sure people respect their rights and not to discriminate against workers.
The Post could not reach Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, for comment on June 16.
According to the ILO report 2015, the domestic worker sector is an important part of the informal economy, covering 67.1 million workers worldwide (above 15-year-old), most of whom were women (83 per cent).
In 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the public to understand the predicament of female domestic workers and allow them to have a holiday.
“Because they are poor, some of them have left their husbands and children at home and come to work for us. When they have good food, they think about their husbands and children at home. Do you know this feeling?
“I think it’s time to consider their feelings and have sympathy for those who are close to us,” he said at the time.