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Gov’t gives financial aid to lockdown-affected workers

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Garment workers in a former red zone along Veng Sreng street in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on May 17. Hong Menea

Gov’t gives financial aid to lockdown-affected workers

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has provided financial assistance to 59,012 workers from 175 factories in the garment, footwear and bag industry located in lockdown areas in Phnom Penh, Kandal province’s Takhmao town and Sihanoukville (Phase 2, 3 and 4).

According to the ministry’s press release on July 28, a one-time payment of 160,000 riel ($40) as specified in the government’s cash assistance programme is available through electronic payment service provider Wing.

Payment will be notified through a text message sent by Wing to workers’ phone numbers provided to the ministry by their factory management. Any allowance not collected within 21 days after receiving the message will be returned to the government

For workers to withdraw the money they must bring their Cambodian ID card and phone number to the nearest Wing agent.

The ministry confirmed that workers are not required to pay a service fee to Wing.

If any factories and employees fail to receive a text message from Wing, or have any questions, they can contact the ministry by Telegram or phone 1297 and instructions will be given on how to withdraw the cash.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment on July 28.

Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn welcomed the government’s assistance to workers in lockdown areas. He said it helped to some extent with their hardships.

However, Thorn added that if the government provided an allowance every month, it would be even better because the lockdown had lasted long. The government could also consider increasing the amount of cash by at least $100 to cover all expenses.

“Actually, this amount is too small. Let’s think about it. House rent costs $20 to $30, food is almost $100, plus other expenses. So, I think at least $150,” he said.

Thorn also pointed out that if employers paid workers during the lockdown, they would not have any problems. But when the government announced that factories would be shut during the lockdown, workers did not receive any benefits from employers. So, the $40 assistance from the government was not enough.

Thorn also asked the government to provide cash to service workers and hotel staff so that they can afford to live as they were also affected during the lockdown.

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