Labour Minister Ith Samheng yesterday said he will look into a request by employers to delay implementing a pension scheme for garment and footwear workers slated for next year.
Speaking at an annual dialogue between the government and private sector about “The New Development of Labour-Related Obligations and Law on Social Security in Cambodia” in Phnom Penh, he noted that the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Association and the Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia had requested the delay.
“The pension scheme is slated to be implemented next year after the law was passed this year,” Mr Samheng said. “The president of CAMFEBA and GMAC Van Sou Ieng has requested to me to delay implementing it. I have already received his request and we are considering it.”
He noted the employers said they needed time to prepare the mechanisms needed to implement the pension scheme.
Mr Samheng told those at the dialogue Prime Minister Hun Sen had made an election promise to implement a pension scheme.
“In 2019, we have already done that because we have passed the law. So in 2020, it is time for us to get ready to launch it,” he said, adding the employers wanted time to disseminate information about the scheme to their relevant officials and carry out pilot projects to smoothen the implementation process.
Mr Samheng noted the employers said they needed about a year’s delay but it should not take that long.
“We will negotiate with each other on what to do. I will not reject the proposal and we will hold more discussions,” he said. “If we spend too much time on the delay, it will affect the government’s promises to voters.”
During the dialogue, Mr Samheng said that the government and the private sector need to work together to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development.
He said that besides increasing work opportunities and minimum wage for workers in the garment and footwear sectors every year, the government is making continuous efforts to protect them.
Mr Samheng said the social protection system for workers is aimed at preventing financial risks, providing job security and stability, promoting health and reducing social inequality.
He noted that the social security law, which has been approved, covers four sections: Healthcare, occupational risk, unemployment and a pension scheme for persons defined by the provisions of the Labour Law, including personnel working in the air and maritime transportation sectors and domestic workers.
Nang Sothy, a CAMFEBA vice president, yesterday urged the Labour Ministry to hold more discussions with the private sector before implementing the pension scheme so that all stakeholders can accept it
“We asked the minister to consider thoroughly before implementing the pension scheme because employers and workers are not yet prepared and are not aware of the law, which requires a detailed study to be put in place,” he told reporters at the event.
Mr Sothy added that during discussions, the employers will try to find ways to find a win-win situation for all parties to improve workers’ living standards when they retire.
“We support having a pension scheme for workers just like the one the government has for civil servants,” he noted.