More than 200 construction workers and union representatives yesterday marked World Health and Safety Day and urged the government to extend to them the same protections given to workers in other sectors.
Sok Kin, Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia president, said that they marked World Health and Safety Day 2019 under the theme “Promotion of Health, Safety and Social Protections for Workers in the Construction Sector”.
He said the event focused on problems faced by construction workers such as working conditions, wages, health and safety and the lack of coverage under the National Social Security Fund.
“Workers at construction sites face the most dangers compared to those in other sectors,” Mr Kin said. “They risk injuries that can cause disability or even death but they do not enjoy similar benefits such as better wages, good working environment and NSSF coverage.”
He urged the government to at least extend NSSF coverage to those in the construction sector.
Mr Kim noted that to mark the event some construction workers went to the Labour Ministry to deliver a petition seeking better benefits.
Khun Tharo, a program coordinator at labour rights group Central, said that World Health and Safety Day provides a chance for construction workers to air their concerns and demands.
“It is a good chance for them to raise their concerns and demands to the government for better working conditions, wages and social protection,” he said.
Ath Thorn, Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union president, said that construction workers do not enjoy good working conditions unlike those in other sectors such as garment workers.
He said the construction sector only employs temporary workers who are paid daily wages.
“When an accident happens they are not completely covered by NSSF or their employers,” Mr Thorn noted.
Pao Doung, ILO representative in Cambodia, said that because construction workers do not yet have good working conditions, or permanent jobs they must be more careful about job safety.
“We also take the opportunity today to pray for workers who have died or were injured at the workplace,” she said.
Khem Sophat, a construction worker from Kampot province, said that he once fell eight meters from a building and broke an arm and leg.
“It was a very difficult time for me while I recovered but I still work at the construction site and am now more alert to the dangers.” he said.
The Labour Ministry recently appealed to all labour departments, unions, workers and employers to mark World Health and Safety Day by promoting workplace safety and remember workers who had died on the job.
According to a ministry report, the NSSF found that 34,808 workers were injured last year, including 9,530 who were hurt while travelling to and from work.