In a letter to three government ministries, a local domestic worker rights group last week demanded wage increases and limitations on work hours.
Von Samphous, president of the fledgling Cambodian Domestic Worker Network (CDWN), sent the letter to the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Interior, urging government officials to guarantee labour rights for maids.
“I think that domestic workers should receive at least $150 per month, work an eight-hour day, get two days off per week,” Samphous told the Post. “We are waiting for a response, and if they do nothing, we will protest in front of the Labour Ministry.”
Domestic workers in Cambodia, often uneducated women from the countryside, typically receive a monthly salary of between $50 and $120, Samphous said.
The letter appeals for the Cambodian government to implement a 2011 International Labour Organization convention outlining protections to which domestic workers should be entitled, including basic human rights, occupational safety and decent living standards for live-in maids.
Many of the points Samphous demanded in the letter are enjoyed by domestic workers in other Asian territories including Hong Kong and the Philippines, but are withheld from the approximately 240,000 domestic workers employed in Cambodia.
A woman who has been employed as a domestic worker in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork for the past three years, identifying herself only as Pheap, told the Post that her work hours are not kept track of and her day is only complete when all tasks are finished.
“I never knew my rights as a domestic worker, because I cannot read and I am not aware of the laws associated with my job,” Pheap said. “I have to get up at 4am or 5am every day, and I work until midnight. I receive $80 per month, but sometimes I get a bonus from my boss when we have a major holiday such as New Year or Pchum Ben.”