State energy provider Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) has announced that it will set a lower fixed price for garment workers residing in Phnom Penh, following complaints of homeowners charging impoverished workers exorbitant amounts per kilowatt.
EdC plans to charge 610 riels ($0.15) per kilowatt for electricity consumed by garment workers who use under 50 kilowatts a month, said director-general Keo Rattanak during a press conference on Tuesday at company’s headquarters in the capital.
The decision came after a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday to reduce high electricity costs for workers, who are being charged anywhere between 1,000 to 2,500 riels ($0.25 to $0.62) per kilowatt.
“The EdC teams will work with workers directly and through this measure, I think garment workers will get a better living,” Rattanak said.
To implement the plan, Rattanak added that the company will invest around $2 million to create new electrical connections in each garment workers’ rented space, and then charge them directly for electricity in order to bypass any potentially illicit schemes.
After they purchase the necessary equipment, EdC will install new electrical wiring and counters in areas where garment workers are known to live, such as Por Sen Chey district.
“Anything that alleviates and allows garment workers to get towards a living wage is a positive step in the right direction,” said Solidarity Center country director Dave Welsh.
Ath Thorn, president of labour union C.CAWDU, also commended the plan, however he said enforcing it will be a challenge.
“It’s a great idea that the government is thinking about helping workers but I’m not sure how they’re going to implement it,” Thorn said.
The company has yet to set a date when the discounts will begin but, according to Rattanak, EdC workers will start canvassing Phnom Penh to determine the exact number of garment workers in the capital and where they reside.