Tuk-tuk driver, hairdresser, tailor, masseuse and mechanic are among the jobs now confirmed as off-limits to foreigners after the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training signed a prakas on Wednesday aimed at protecting the local job market.
The passing of the sub-decree, which outlines 10 employment categories largely in the informal and self-employed sectors, was welcomed by unions.
Category 1 of the prakas, signed by Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng on Wednesday, forbids foreigners from being the “drivers of all types of vehicles as a business, such as two- and three-wheeled vehicles, cars and trucks”.
Non-Cambodians are also not allowed to be “vendors selling goods in public locations either on foot or using all types of vehicles”; “provide massages in public locations”; or work as “barbers, hairdressers and beauticians”.
Foreigners cannot “provide sewing services or shine shoes”; be “a tailor or dressmaker”; a “tyre repairer or mechanic”; “a producer of Khmer souvenirs”; or “a producer of Khmer musical instruments, monk’s alms bowls or Buddhist statues”.
The final category states that foreigners cannot work as “goldsmiths or processors of precious stones”.
“The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will not provide or extend work permits or employment cards for foreigners carrying out occupations and jobs as stipulated in Article 2 of this prakas.
“Any person violating this prakas shall be fined and punished in accordance with the Labour Law and existing regulations,” the prakas states.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sieng Thay could not be reached by The Post for comment on Wednesday.
However, Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said the move will help protect the jobs of Cambodian people and create more employment opportunities in areas where foreigners had previously worked in the 10 categories specified.
“We have issued this prakas at an appropriate time after consultations with relevant parties,” Sour said.
The sub-decree did not violate World Trade Organisation or International Labour Organisation rules, or impede on human rights, he said.
After careful review and discussions with employers, workers and union representatives and the government, with regards to both regional and international legal frameworks, as well as the Labour Law, the prakas avoids racial or geographical discrimination, he said.
Som Aun of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia (NACC) said the sub-decree would help protect small businesses and a large number of Cambodia’s self-employed thanks to foreign nationals being banned from working in certain areas.
“The prakas means foreign nationals now cannot do some jobs that they had previously worked in and affected Cambodians’ livelihoods, such as barbers and taxi drivers, and those who worked in massage parlours and sold certain goods.
“We cannot let foreigners do all the jobs because it would affect the livelihoods of our citizens,” Aun said.
Ken Chhenglang, the deputy director of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, welcomed the ministry’s move, saying it would protect the livelihoods of Cambodians.
“It has been announced that all foreigners are now banned from running their businesses in 10 specified categories of jobs. So now, whether Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian, they are now banned from certain activities, such as walking the streets selling [goods],” Chhenglang said.
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (Idea) director Vorn Pov said the ministry’s move had come late, with some foreigners having for a while taken basic jobs away from Cambodians, thereby affecting their living.
“The prakas has come late. In Preah Sihanouk province Chinese nationals have taken jobs such as tuk-tuk and taxi driving, hairdressing and the selling food. Cambodians have consequently lost their income. Yet we applaud the announcement of this new law,” Pov said.