Cambodian workers ask for pay parity with Vietnam builders

Cambodian workers ask for pay parity with Vietnam builders

Cambodian construction workers have hit out at the higher wages typically paid to their Vietnamese counterparts, asking for similar pay for similar work.

"We work the same as Vietnamese construction workers but we get smaller wages," said  Chub Chom, the chief of construction workers at the Chip Mong Construction Co.

"But, if you compare the quality, we are better than Vietnamese construction workers because we are serious about  doing high-quality work."

Sok Sovandeith, president of the Cambodia National Federation of Building and Wood Workers, said the 2,000 to 3,000 Vietnamese working in the construction sector in Cambodia earned around US$7.50 per day, compared with between $4 and $6 for Khmer workers.

He said the perception among many construction managers was that Vietnamese workers were more productive. "They think that Cambodian workers do not have sufficient construction skills and also work slower than Vietnamese workers," he said.

The attitude held,  regardless of whether the project was funded from Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea or Singapore, he said, adding that Cambodian construction workers had a similar skill level to their Vietnamese counterparts.

Chung Savoeun, the chief of construction workers at Senmonorom City in Phnom Penh, said Vietnamese construction workers worked faster, but quality suffered as a result.

"I don't recognise their quality of work," he said. "The quality is lower than from Khmer workers, who are more serious about their work."

He added that Vietnamese construction workers were paid more, irrespective of their skill level. "I don't understand," he said. "Some Vietnamese construction workers have no skill in construction but they get higher wages than us. I don't know why."

A 34-year-old Vietnamese construction worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had worked as a construction worker in Cambodia for more than two years. He said that he earned between $6.50 and $7 per day, despite  having only basic skills in construction work.

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