Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reforms not reaching hostesses: researcher

Reforms not reaching hostesses: researcher

Reforms not reaching hostesses: researcher

Working conditions for beer promoters may be improving, but “hostesses” hired directly by venues out to sidestep an industry cleanup are now drinking twice as much as promoters were before, a researcher says.

Rising salaries and a push from beer companies to improve working conditions have resulted in less coerced drinking and sexual assault and harassment among beer promoters in restaurants, beer gardens and bars, workers and unionists said last week.

But Canadian academic Ian Lubek – whose surveys of more than 1,600 beer promoters between 2004 and 2012 found that the majority were drinking six glasses per night, 27 times a month – said in an email on Sunday that “hostesses” were now drinking at dangerous levels.

“While there has been some reduction of the amount of nightly drinking among beer sellers, they are now being replaced at the restaurant tables with ‘hostesses’, not paid by the brewers, who drink double,” said Lubek, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Guelph in Canada.

“In 2013-4, BSIC [Beer Selling Industry Cambodia] company workers including Carlsberg brands, were down to three glasses . . . but hostesses drank 11 [glasses].”

Sar Mora, president of Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF), said last week that monthly wages at Cambrew – which makes Angkor Beer and is partly owned by Carlsberg – have risen to $155, taking the pressure off women to drink and engage in sexual relations with clients.

But, he said yesterday, the emergence of more hostesses was simply shifting the problems to a different group of women.

“They sit with customers and drink lots of beer – four to five cans at least,” he said.

While beer companies have made efforts to clean up the industry through the BSIC, they have yet to take responsibility for hostesses who, though not employed by them, are still selling their product, Mora said.

“They are helping beer companies make a profit . . . [companies] should be more responsible,” he said.

CFSWF, Mora said, intends to recruit hostesses into its ranks to try to address the issues they face.

Representatives from the BSIC could not be reached, while Cambrew and one of its parent companies, Carslberg, declined or did not respond to requests for comment.

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