Forty garment workers on their way to their jobs in the Seng Special Economic Zone were injured when the two trucks that carried them hit one another on Wednesday morning.
The crash occurred when the trucks, which were driving next to each other, collided as they drove down National Road 1 in Svay Reing’s Bavet district at about 7:40am, said deputy district police chief Chea Sina.
Workers on the trucks suffered sprained arms and legs, peeled skin and injuries from hitting their heads, Sina said.
Police impounded both trucks for evidence, said Pich Sarorn, Svay Reing provincial chief of traffic police. Many of the injured were hospitalised with varying degrees of injury.
“Now, some workers are staying at the hospital and some have recovered and got out,” Sarorn said.
The accident underscores the need for factory owners to provide better pay and benefits for their employees, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
Garment workers are typically only granted between $7 and $10 per month to subsidise their travel to and from work, leading them to choose cheap, but unsafe forms of transportation, like crowded truck beds.
“Most of the people are talking about the security, health systems inside the working place, but they seldom talk about the worker outside travelling to and from work,” Tola said. “The trucks are not qualified; accidents happen very often.”
Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia, said companies are required to provide at least $7 per month in allowance for transportation or housing meets workers’ needs. But the money is meant to subsidise, not necessarily cover workers’ transportation.
“It’s an allowance, it’s not to say that it should cover the whole cost,” Loo said.
Labour advocates have been working to get clothing brands and manufacturers to provide workers free transportation, but it’s an uphill battle, Tola said.