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Suspended tourism workers get support

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A tour guide with tourists in Kampong Chhnang province in November 2020. Hong Menea

Suspended tourism workers get support

The government, through the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, has announced it will soon roll out its 80th cash support to the nearly 2,000 tourism workers who have been suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis. The payments are in line with the spirit of the government’s intervention package, said the ministry.

According to the ministry’s April 18 notice, the allowances will be provided to 1,929 workers from 14 tourism enterprises whose employment contracts have been suspended.

The announcement added that Wing Specialized Bank will send details about the payments to the telephone number each worker provided to the ministry in the past.

According to the ministry, this allowance will be paid in riel and payment will depend on the number of days the contract was suspended. Workers who were off work for between 11 and 20 days will receive 120,000 riel ($30), while those who were suspended for up to a full month will be supported with 60,000 riel ($40).

The ministry reminded recipients that electronic payment service provider Wing will return these subsidies to the government if workers fail to withdraw their allowance within 10 days.

“In order to withdraw this allowance, workers will have to present a valid Cambodian national ID and be in possession of the phone number that received the message. No fees will be charged by Wing agents for this service,” it said.

Mam Rithy, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, said the continued payment of cash support to workers in the tourism sector – which remains affected by the pandemic – is a positive thing that demonstrates the attention the government is paying to the wellbeing of the people.

He suggested that if it could afford it, the government might want to investigate whether it could make similar support payments to other hard-hit sectors, like the garment industry.

“I applaud the government’s decision to continue to help tourism workers because many of them do not yet have jobs, as some hotels remain shuttered. The garment and footwear industry is in a similar position.

“Although it too is recovering, there are still some factories which remain closed, or only partially open. This means there are many people who have not yet returned to their jobs. I think if the government can afford it, they should try to help everyone who has become unemployed due to the pandemic,” he said.

Rithy said that the sector will continue to be affected in the long run if the Covid-19 virus continues to mutate into new variants.

“Now we do not know whether there will be another wave of infections caused by a new variant. Other countries seem to be discovering new forms of the virus fairly regularly. The worst case scenario would be a continued onslaught of new forms of Covid-19 instilling fear in international tourists. If this what ends up happening, it may take five years for tourism to recover to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

Alongside the continued payment of Covid-19 related unemployment subsidies, the cash subsidy programme for poor and vulnerable families has also been resumed, as have the programme for pregnant women and mothers with children under 2 years old.

The programmes were temporarily suspended for six days from April 13-18, over the Khmer New Year holiday.

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