The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) jointly published a labour migration policy on Tuesday that is intended to improve conditions for Cambodia’s migrant workers abroad.
The policy, Labour Migration for Cambodia 2019-2023, addresses safe migration and the elimination of financial barriers preventing Cambodian migrant workers abroad, especially woman, from receiving fair employment opportunities.
The policy also aims to improve mechanisms to resolve complaints made by the immigrant workers, as well as establish cooperation with financial institutions in Cambodia to help them send their remittances home safely and at a reduced cost.
Last year, the World Bank estimated that Cambodian migrants sent $386 million home in remittances, with the actual figure likely higher as it did not include money sent through non-official channels.
Cambodian workers face many challenges in finding employment abroad, including expensive service fees by recruitment agencies, as well as long waiting times when going through official networks.
These factors incentivise many to choose informal and illegal means of finding work in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. But with these informal networks comes an increased risk of exploitation.
Dy The Hoya, the project officer at labour rights group Central, said he wished to see the policy provide specific and clear monitoring mechanisms for its enforcement to serve the interests of the migrant workers.
“I appeal to the government to make a policy which is realistic and particularly serves migrant workers. For example, when they go to work in construction in Thailand or the Philippines, how much are they paying the recruitment agency or company that hired them?"
“The policy should also address how long migrant workers need to work before they pay off their debts to these companies,” he said.