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Labour ministry says construction safety concerns addressed

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Cambodian labourers work on a high-rise building construction site in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Labour ministry says construction safety concerns addressed

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a response on Wednesday to a petition from civil society organisations asking the government to work on seven key points to improve safety in construction sites.

The Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) and the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) on Tuesday submitted a petition to the ministries of Labour and Vocational Training; and Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; encompassing seven issues to help improve safety standards and strengthen law enforcement in the construction sector.

In its response, the ministry said it has been working to address three of the seven issues raised by the associations but that the other four were outside its control.

“The ministry confirms that it has already been working on some of the highlighted issues. The ministry will continue to work to resolve any issue brought before it, and that is within its power,” it said.

Issues beyond the ministry’s authority will be referred to the relevant ministry or institution, the statement said.

Some of the issues raised in the petition are that construction sites that lack a permit or fail to meet industry safety standards be immediately closed, on-site inspections are carried regularly and transparently, construction workers are allowed to join the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and proper compensation is given to victims and their families in case of an accident.

BWTUC president Sok Kin praised the ministry’s prompt response.

“At least we have received a response from the ministry addressing our concerns. We will continue to follow up on the issues that are not being addressed,” Kin said.

Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction spokesperson Seng Lot could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Together, BWTUC and Central represent 78 union federations, associations, organisations and communities.

Speaking during a meeting on Tuesday to address the dangers of decaying buildings, Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng instructed that construction sites in Phnom Penh be monitored to ensure workers do not sleep there overnight.

“District authorities must strongly monitor the situation. They must inspect construction sites and check if the companies have permits.

“If a building does not meet safety standards or lacks the necessary permits, construction must be stopped immediately and the owner summoned for a meeting to find a solution,” he stressed.

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