The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on April 22 urged owners and directors of factories in lockdown areas to consider providing allowance to workers, in addition to other support provided by the government.

The garment, footwear and travel products sector has been severely affected by government lockdown measures, GMAC said in an internal memo.

And affected factories face severe financial losses, while workers face declining incomes due to the suspension of employment contracts, it added.

"However, seeing the difficulties that our workers are facing during this difficult time, the association calls on all members in lockdown areas to consider providing a certain amount of allowance to your workers," GMAC said.

The association added that coupled with the various subsidies provided by the government, the allowance will facilitate workers’ daily lives until lockdown is repealed.

GMAC deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika asked factory owners to provide their workers with as much money as they can spare, calling on workers to be patient and tolerant during these trying circumstances.

He told The Post on April 26: "We ask for your understanding, however. During this time we see that the Royal Government has made every effort to provide food to our brothers and sisters as well."

Appealing to a sense of obligation and social responsibility, Monika added that GMAC calls on garment factories that are members of the association to give “high consideration to humanitarian principles” in their decision to support their workers.

"We know that this is based on humanitarian principles, so the allowance is more or less dependent on each factory’s ability and also on the morale of each owner," he said.

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a directive on April 19 instructing the owners and directors of factories, enterprises, cottage industries and other companies that were temporarily shut during the lockdown period to pay any unpaid wages for April 1-14 after restrictions are lifted.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour on April 23 told a live broadcast on TVK that there is no shortage in the protection of workers’ rights and other interests during lockdown.

The ministry will continue to advise all companies, factories and enterprises to maintain employment contracts for all workers during this period, he said.

"The ministry will protect workers’ positions, and you will receive your wages. In particular, that ministry has clearly determined and ordered that the two weeks' wages of April must be paid to all workers," Sour said.

The ministry has ordered all factories to close during this time, except those that produce foodstuffs such as instant noodles, or medical equipment, he affirmed.

Factories found in violation of the order may incur fines from the ministry and other punitive actions from the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration and its counterpart in Kandal province’s Takmao town.