Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng said that ensuring the development of a resilient and well-paid labour market with better working conditions has contributed to the implementation of the strategic plan for the development of the employment sector.

Samheng said that the Cambodian labour market situation is strong, maintaining a high employment rate of more than 99 per cent, including the estimated 1.3 million Cambodian migrant workers who are employed in Thailand.

Samheng was speaking at the meeting to review annual results for 2022 and the implementation plan for 2023 of strategic plan for the development of the employment sector held on February 22.

“These successes are demonstrated by ensuring the development of a resilient and high-income labour market for people with better working conditions, with a focus on improving the well-being of both formal and informal workers that aims to improve people’s livelihoods and promote vibrant business activities and sustainable investment in response to socio-economic development and the labour market,” he said.

He added that the results were due in part to the update of relevant laws and regulations, including amendments to the Labour Law and the Union Law and the adoption of the Minimum Wage Law to facilitate the freedom of trade unions and associations, reduce labour disputes, harmonise professional relations and better resolve factory bankruptcies or closures by absent owners.

A report from the labour ministry claimed that Cambodia maintains a high employment rate of 99.3 per cent of the total labour force of about 10.8 million people.

Of that number, 2.5 million are working in the industrial sector (equivalent to 23 per cent); 3.1 million in the service sector (29 per cent); 3.4 million work in the agricultural sector (31 per cent); 500,000 work as public officials (five per cent) and 1.3 million are migrant workers abroad (12 per cent).

National Trade Union Alliance president Fa Sali said that the implementation of the strategic plan for employment development and vocational training could be said to be neither too good nor too bad.

“What the Royal Government has done, we agree that it’s really been done, but so far it has not provided any results that are enough for our workers to have a prosperous life or well-being and wages are still limited. So I’d say it has been stagnant, in the middle, meaning that there has not been much positive effect for workers, which leaves workers with no wages leftover after costs of living,” he said.

He added that working conditions, welfare and wages of workers are still limited, while he expressed hope that in 2024 the minimum wage will rise to meet demand and will be governed by market prices.