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Workers in Malaysia not an issue: minister

Labour Minister Ith Samheng speaks on the decent work plan for 2016-2018 yesterday in Phnom Penh. SUPPLIED
Labour Minister Ith Samheng speaks on the decent work plan for 2016-2018 yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Workers in Malaysia not an issue: minister

Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng told reporters yesterday the drafting of an action plan to send workers to Malaysia was still underway, but maintained that the abuses faced by a small number of domestic workers there was not of concern.

Speaking on the sidelines of a joint event with the ILO, Sam Heng said a technical working group was still working with Malaysian officials to draft a revised memorandum of understanding, and insisted that the relatively small number of workers who face abuse in Malaysia meant it was not a big issue.

“Recently, there are victims being saved from Malaysia but I think its still less. [It’s] not a lot if we compare it to the amount Cambodian workers working in Malaysia, which is probably 50,000 workers,” he said.

In December 2015, the two countries decided to lift a 2011 ban on sending domestic workers to Malaysia following numerous horror stories of severe abuse, allegations of forced detention and underage recruitment. In October the two sides agreed to expand the MoU to include factory, construction and plantation workers.

Speaking at yesterday’s presentation of a report on the Decent Work Country Programme, Sam Heng also touted the ministry’s efforts in “giving [good] working conditions to the people, increases in wages, expanding a working group to find solutions for worker protests and the expansion of insurance services”.

However, the opposition have suggested that a lack of government commitment to attracting decent jobs had driven hundreds of thousands of Cambodians to seek work abroad.

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