Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Young workers face rough time: report

Young workers face rough time: report

Young men wash motorcycles yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district.
Young men wash motorcycles yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. Hong Menea

Young workers face rough time: report

Young people working in Cambodia’s sprawling informal sector face tougher working conditions and a lack of control over their jobs, according to a draft study released on Monday by the Youth Resource Development Program, a youth organisation based in the capital.

Based on a survey of 408 youths in the Phnom Penh area who work in 10 ill-regulated sectors ranging from construction to restaurants, the study showed that only 27 per cent of respondents had contracts with their employers, while slightly less than half even knew of the Labour Law, which governs employment in the Kingdom.

“Based on the results of the study, they faced [difficulties] especially with having no contract, and when they have a conflict with their employer they have no mechanism to deal with [it],” said Cheang Sokha, executive director of the YRDP.

The study mainly interviewed high school dropouts and university students working part-time, defining informal workers as those working without fixed hours or wages, said Sokha.

The report concluded that one of the main reasons for the lack of workers’ protections was low penetration by unions, with only 3.7 per cent of workers involved with one.

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, concurred with that finding, saying that only a small number of restaurant workers – mainly youth from the provinces – are unionised.

“[Employers] don’t really care about the Labour Law, that’s why there are many problems in the sector,” ranging from a lack of overtime pay to low wages, he said.

Low unionisation rates in sectors like the restaurant industry are largely due to fears over losing their jobs and a lack of personal investment in jobs seen as temporary, Mora said.

Despite the issues in the sector, the study found that on average, respondents had a total income of $172 per month, only slightly lower than the estimated $188 total take-home income for workers in the more unionised garment sector.

Chan Savy, a 21-year-old gas station attendant in Takeo, said he didn’t know much about the Labour Law, although his job was “acceptable”.

“I am also thinking of joining a union to get better conditions, but I am afraid that if I join the union I will be fired,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • Bodhisattva statue unearthed

    The Apsara National Authority technical team uncovered a sandstone statue of a Bodhisattva while carrying out excavation work at the east entrance of the Ta Nei temple on October 8. The team was trying to find the temple’s roof stone, which had fallen into a

  • World Bank: Challenges facing the Kingdom

    Cambodia’s economy currently faces challenges including credit growth in the construction and real estate sectors, rising indebtedness and the possible withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement, said the World Bank Group’s latest forecast report on the Asia-Pacific economies. The