Cambodia plans to send about 5,000 migrant workers to Kuwait for the first time next year, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced yesterday.
In 2009, Cambodia and Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding in manpower exchange, but it was not put into operation and no workers were sent to the latter.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng met with Kuwait’s Social Affairs and Labour Minister Hind Al-Sabeeh, on Wednesday in Phnom Penh.
After the meeting, Samheng said: “We will prepare 5,000 workers that fit the criteria to be sent to Kuwait to work in various industries, such as in services and agriculture.
“If the working conditions are good and with a reasonable minimum wage, the [Cambodian] government will send more workers in the coming years.”
He also noted that prospective workers would be given information about the host country’s living condition and culture.
However, other government officials were not aware of the details of the plan.
Labour Ministry undersecretary of state Ngoy Rith told The Post that no specific procedures were discussed at the meeting.
“The two countries’ senior officials only discussed a plan to send Cambodian workers to Kuwait. The ministry’s employment and manpower department will look into the mechanism from the technical perspective. We shall see the outcome of the discussions,” said Rith.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said procedures were needed to send workers abroad.
“Sending [migrant workers] is feasible only if there is demand and instruments to protect them. Prospective workers must also have sound skills, including language, and consent to be sent overseas,” he said.
Dy The Hoya from labour rights group Central said the plan is a good initiative from the government, but it must also be wary of the risks involved in sending workers abroad.
“The government needs to ensure that worker protection mechanisms are strong. Abuses and trafficking sometimes occur because [Cambodians] don’t know much about the country [they are going to]”, he said.