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Gov’t shells out $100 million for suspended workers, re-training

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From February 14 to June 9, a total of 324 factories, which employ 193,924 workers, suspended operations for 14 to 60 days. Hong Menea

Gov’t shells out $100 million for suspended workers, re-training

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has allocated $60 million to $100 million for suspended workers and re-training programmes as part of its Covid-19 stimulus plan.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour told The Post on Wednesday that 87,647 workers have become unemployed following the closure of 199 factories.

From February 14 to June 9, a total of 324 factories, which employ 193,924 workers, suspended operations for 14 to 60 days. However, more than 50 per cent of employees have returned to work.

“As of June 10, the government has spent 11 billion riel [$2.7 million] as compensation for 126,457 workers. Together with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, we are preparing the [next round of] allocation for workers who submitted their application,” Sour said.

Last month, the government said more than 17,000 suspended workers in the garment and tourism sectors had been identified to receive allocations in the fourth round of subsidies.

In the first round, 33,231 workers from 111 factories received compensation, followed by 25,588 workers (67 factories) in the second round and 49,960 workers (165 factories) in the third round.

Workers were paid in riel and based on the number of days they were suspended.

For example, 61,750 riel ($15) was disbursed to each worker whose employment contract was suspended for seven to 10 days, 123,000 riel ($30) for 11 to 20 days, and 164,000 riel ($40) for 21 days to a month.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights programme coordinator Khun Tharo told The Post on Wednesday that the government should have clear policies to ease lending terms by microfinance institutions in order to reduce the debt burden on workers directly affected by the suspension.

“One of the important measures is to ease their burden so they can pay utility bills and rent. If there is an adjustment or discounts to utility bills, and a compromise from the landlord to reduce the rent then it can help workers,” Tharo said.

Besides the garment and tourism sectors, the government should also cover other vulnerable sectors such as the construction sector because many workers have lost their jobs and they do not have social protection.

“The informal economy, as well as the service sector, especially the small-and medium-sized restaurants are equally at risk,” he said.

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