Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Domestic workers push for protections

Domestic workers push for protections

Domestic workers push for protections

Forty national and foreign NGOs yesterday called on the government to ratify the International Labour Organization’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention in order to better safeguard the rights of Cambodian domestic workers, both inside and outside of the country.

The missive, which says that the Kingdom’s domestic workers currently enjoy no protection under the law, was signed by the rights groups Licadho, the Cambodian Legal Education Center and the Cambodia Domestic Worker Network (CDWN), among others. Allegations of abuse are not uncommon among maids in Cambodia or abroad. Maids working in Malaysia have returned with numerous accounts of grave abuses.

Under the ILO convention, domestic workers are entitled to decent working and living conditions, days off, the right to collective bargaining, and “protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence”.

CDWN deputy director Yem Sothy said that 240,000 domestic workers in Cambodia and thousands abroad would benefit from accession to the convention. “If there is an agreement, the worker will get a proper salary . . . and have holidays to visit their homeland,” she said.

Hai Somaly, 20, from Kandal, came to Phnom Penh to become a maid when she was only 10. According to her, domestic workers are accorded a lower place in Cambodian society and often face exploitation.

“I want laws to protect us, and I also want a minimum wage like other types of worker,” she said.

Indeed, many of the provisions in the ILO convention say domestic workers should be given legal recognition and protections commensurate with “workers generally”. However, Cambodia’s garment sector is essentially the only industry with regulations on wages and other worker benefits.

Nonetheless, said Dave Welsh, country director of the labour rights group Solidarity Center, ratification of the convention is “very important” as “the more ILO conventions that are ratified, the more formalised the economy becomes”. Labour Ministry officials could not be reached yesterday or declined to comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with

  • PM Hun Sen: Cambodia will not die without EBA scheme

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated that he would not be overly concerned if Cambodia had its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme withdrawn because the Kingdom would not die without it. Hun Sen was speaking to factory workers in