BUN Sokha, 21, has been working at the Bestway Industrial Centre for two years. Her Chinese-Vietnamese employers produce bicycles for export only at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone a few kilometres from the Vietnamese border at Bavet on Highway 1.
“I used to put stamps on bicycles, but now I translate between management and workers,” she says.
“It is a good job because it is not hard. When they say translate, I translate.”
She earns US$84 per month, and a further $1 for each three hours she works overtime. As the company has a rush order, today she is working even though it is a Sunday. With her husband working on a construction site, Bun Sokha’s mother is taking care of their four-year-old son.
Bestway is one of nine companies listed as working at the special economic zone.
Ya Saroeun, 30, works for shoemakers, Kingmaker. The stitchmaker produces international brands such as Clarks shoes, for the Hong Kong company. These also are all for export.
She has worked here for four years, taking home a basic of $61 each month, although she can make up to $80 with overtime. She, too, is working on a Sunday.
“I want the money – that’s why I come to work on Sundays,” she says. “Today, I can earn more.”
Like many workers, Ya Saroeun combines her work at the shoe factory with rice farming. “When the rainy season starts, I farm,” she says. “If I don’t work here what do I have to eat? I need this salary. If I do not farm, what do I have to raise my family?”
Since she started working at the warehouse Ya Saroeun has been able to improve the food she provides for her two children. Their education has also improved.
“Now, it’s not so difficult to send our children to school,” she says. TRANSLATION BY RANN REUY