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State clamps down on labour recruiters

State clamps down on labour recruiters

THE Labour Ministry announced yesterday that an inter-ministerial panel had been created to amend rules governing firms that recruited and trained workers to be sent abroad.

The move follows a spate of complaints accusing government-sanctioned training centres of mistreating and abusing recruits.

Speaking at the launch of a new set of industry guidelines yesterday, Hou Vudthy, deputy director of the ministry’s Employment and Manpower Department, said a 1995 sub-decree would be amended to ensure that “the workers have more rights and more understanding” of their rights.

“We are rewriting Sub-decree No 57 on the sending of Khmer workers to work abroad ... and it is an important thing,” he said.

Last month, officials investigated three sanctioned recruitment firms after trainees said they were illegally detained. Officials reported finding more than 60 underage girls in facilities run by the three and accused one of housing trainees in overcrowded and squalid conditions.

An Bunhak, chairman of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said yesterday that the old sub-decree had been too broad to be effective. “We have had a lot of problems, and we had no regulations to help us,” he said. “The last sub-decree is two or three pages; the new one is about 30 or 40 pages.”

Whereas the old sub-decree merely required firms to register with the Commerce Ministry, he said, the new one would regulate conditions at training centres, occupancy limits and recruitment practices.

An Bunhak said the new committee hoped to send a draft of the new sub-decree to the Interior Ministry by “the end of this year”.

Labour Minister Vong Soth said yesterday that the new regulations would be strictly enforced. “We will do inspections of the recruitment firms often, and we will punish them if we find them doing wrong,” he said.

Vong Soth said there would be incentives, such as “honour certification”, for firms complying with the rules. There are 28 groups licensed by the ministry to train and send workers abroad.

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