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Job site seeks to curb dangerous migration

Migrant workers wait to have their paperwork finalised for Thai work permits in 2014 near the border town of Poipet.
Migrant workers wait to have their paperwork finalised for Thai work permits in 2014 near the border town of Poipet. Hong Menea

Job site seeks to curb dangerous migration

The NGO Open Institute has launched a new online service that aims to help Cambodian unskilled labourers find jobs within the country as part of an effort to discourage worker migration in hopes of reducing human trafficking.

The service, called Bong Pheak, is an online website for connecting potential employees with employers and is funded by USAID and Winrock.

Project manager Federico Barreras said one of the main factors that lead people to leave Cambodia in search of work is “a lack of information about jobs in Cambodia”.

“If people have more choices, we believe they will take jobs within the country,” he said.

Barreras acknowledged that higher salaries abroad are a major contributing factor to unsafe migration, but said the purpose of Bong Pheak is simply to help Cambodians make more informed decisions.

Joel Preston, of the labour rights group Central, agree that the service “will contribute a lot to stemming potentially dangerous migration”.

Preston also called on the government to “do their bit” in improving wages and working conditions in order to further reduce unsafe migration.

A September study from Open Institute found that while the average legal migrant worker in Thailand makes more than twice as much as the average Cambodian worker, the majority of migrant workers are there illegally and often paid exploitative wages. In fact, 15 percent of migrant workers that eventually came back to Cambodia cited low wages as the main reason for returning.

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