Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers gather at Ministry of Labour

Workers gather at Ministry of Labour

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers gather in front of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on Monday to demand improved conditions as had been experienced in the garment sector. Long Kimmarita

Workers gather at Ministry of Labour

More than 100 tourism, service industry and agriculture workers gathered in front of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on Russian Boulevard on Monday to demand improved conditions as had been experienced in the garment sector.

Union representatives joined in the first such demand by workers in the sectors, as those assembled called for an increase in basic salary and improved working conditions.

Representatives of workers in the sectors submitted a petition to the Ministry of Labour requesting a minimum wage of $300 a month and improved working conditions.

The minimum wage in the garment industry is currently $182 a month.

The petition, which was separate from one submitted by union representatives, also called for gratuity payments (for services rendered, such as tips) of 10 per cent.

A Siem Reap hotel employee who attended the gathering and asked not to be named told The Post on Monday that workers in the tourism sector wanted the ministry to clearly outline protected working conditions.

She said there were currently no laws protecting workers in the tourism sector, while pay and other benefits were still minimal.

“Because the law is not clearly stated, business owners can decide whatever they want, including basic salary and working hours.

“We gathered here today to submit a petition on these issues. If the laws state our rights clearly, the owners cannot exploit us,” she said.

Seng Sok Khoeun, an agriculture worker, said conditions in his sector were challenging and often dangerous.

“Working conditions are bad, while the basic salary is so low it is not sufficient for workers and their families to have a decent livelihood. Jobs with companies are also not secure because the owners can sack workers whenever they want. There are no contracts."

“In the agriculture sector, the owners gain huge profits but workers’ wages are very low,” Sok Khoeun said.

Morm Rithy, the president of the Cambodian Tourism and Services Workers Federation(CTSWF), said after submitting a petition to the Ministry of Labour that it was time the ministry considered workers in sectors other than the garment industry.

Every sector contributed to national development, he said.

“I hope the ministry will consider these petitions from workers in these sectors because they should be better-taken care of and have better working conditions."

“I call on the ministry to work on these issues this year. I will continue to monitor the situation. If nothing changes, we will use other strategies to get a minimum wage and working conditions improved,” Rithy said.

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on Monday that the ministry would look at the petitions.

“The ministry accepted the petitions from the workers. They will be sent to a specific team for study, and we will request assistance from relevant partners."

“If possible, we will discuss with development partners about [forming] a labour council committee to review these requests,” Sour said.

He stressed that all workers are protected under the Labour Law and the National Social Security Fund. However, the agriculture and service sectors come under separate chapters of the Labour Law.

“Workers are free to submit requests. Some requests are already covered under laws and regulations. Maybe they are not aware of this. Some requests are new, which demands in-depth study,” he said.

According to union representatives from the sectors concerned, there are around 60,000 workers in the tourism industry, while nearly half the country works in agriculture.

They called for a minimum wage of between $80 to $130 a month for workers in these sectors as the prices of goods had increased significantly.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10