Workers should be taught to read: PM

Garment workers leave a factory yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh
Garment workers leave a factory yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on the private sector to introduce literacy classes for their staff. Pha Lina

Workers should be taught to read: PM

At the kickoff for the National Literacy Campaign at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on private sector employers to introduce literacy classes for their employees.

Reading classes will benefit both illiterate employees and their employers, the premier said in his speech, though some factories contacted yesterday were less than full-throated in their support for the idea.

“I want to take this chance to appeal to the private sector, including the garment industry, to take a look at our workers who do not know how to read and write, and begin literacy classes for them,” Hun Sen said.

“All workers in the public and private sectors should have a chance to learn to read.”

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached yesterday.

Chea Samnang, administrative manager of Phnom Penh garment factory Sky Nice International, yesterday said he had not received any directive from the Labour Ministry requiring reading classes.

“We will consider starting literacy classes for employees if we get an announcement from the ministry,” Samnang said. “I believe that some workers never learned how to read or write, which is difficult for them.”

Meth Veasna, administrative manager at Now Corp, a Kandal province-based garment factory, said the idea for literacy classes may in fact be overly ambitious, considering that a large majority of employees at his factory have never learned to read or write.

Veasna said he will speak with his boss about the suggestion when he returns from an overseas trip, and that the factory will begin classes if they are required. However, such action would likely cut into their productivity.

“Eighty per cent of the workers in our factory cannot read, because most of them are from rural areas; we knew this when they applied for their jobs,” Veasna said yesterday.

“I think it will affect our output if they have to learn, but we have to follow the prime minister [if employers are required to provide classes], because investors have to respect the country’s laws,” he added.

The president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, Rong Chhun, yesterday said that he supported literacy classes, but added that he doubts they will actually materialise.

“[Workers] have to work eight hours per day and then they work overtime, so I think they do not have time to attend literacy class,” Chhun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget