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A lesson in caution

Garment factory workers stand inside a transport truck as they commute to Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district
Garment factory workers stand inside a transport truck as they commute to Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. PHA LINA

A lesson in caution

After nearly 50 garment workers were killed last year while travelling to or from their respective factories, the Ministry of Labour has urged truck drivers who cram dozens into the back of vehicles each day to take more care on the roads.

In an information session in the capital’s Dangkor district on Saturday, officials from the ministry’s National Social Security Fund spoke to some 200 private drivers about the importance of having a licence and the huge responsibility they have when transporting so many workers.

“Sometimes there are 30 to 50 workers in a truck, so if a driver is not careful, he could kill or injure them all,” said Cheav Bunrith, the NSSF’s policy office chief.

Rather than place the burden of responsibility solely on truck drivers, though, Bunrith said the NSSF had also appealed to factory owners to only allow licensed drivers with a strong knowledge of traffic laws to transport their workers.

Trucks overloaded with garment workers are a familiar sight, especially on the outskirts of the capital.

According to NSSF figures, 49 garment workers died last year during a journey to or from work, 359 were seriously injured and more than 3,000 were slightly injured.

Involved in the information session was Kong Ratanak, deputy program manager at NGO Handicap International, who said the training had focused on drivers because workers “depended on them” for their safety.

Dave Welsh, country manager for rights group Solidarity Center/ACILS, said the Labour Law held employers liable for accidents involving workers travelling to and from their factories.

“But the problem is the application,” he said, adding some employers didn’t realise their responsibility and some workers didn’t understand their rights.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL

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