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Number of migrant workers sent abroad drops by 80 percent

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
A file picture of migrant workers leaving for a host country. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The number of migrant workers sent to host countries last year dropped by about 80 percent compared with 2018 and possible reasons include better job prospects in the Kingdom and fear of abuse when abroad.

In its annual report, the Labour Ministry said it sent 68,040 Cambodian workers, including 28,201 women, to work in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

“In 2018, the ministry sent 342,154 workers to work abroad so the number has dropped by 80.1 percent,” it said.

The report said 57,823 workers were sent to Thailand, 5,938 to South of Korea, 3,945 to Japan, 135 to Singapore, 72 to Hong Kong, 69 to Malaysia and 58 to Saudi Arabia.

It added the number of workers sent to Thailand last year decreased by 82.6 percent and 52.9 percent fewer went to Singapore.

“There were 333,872 workers who were sent to Thailand and the 287 to Singapore in 2018,” the report said.

The ministry has licenced 104 private recruitment companies to send workers abroad and those in South Korea are recruited under a government-to-government arrangement.

The report was issued during the ministry’s annual meeting chaired by Labour Minister Ith Samheng.

Heng Sour, a spokesman for Labour Ministry, could not be reached for further comment yesterday.

Migrant workers from Thailand wait at the Poipet transit centre. Khmer Times

Dy The Hoya, a programme officer at labour rights group Central, said yesterday the number of workers going to work in Thailand and Singapore are declining possibly due to several factors.

“One could be that wages in our country are now better than before and there is a job boom in the construction sector,” he said.

Mr The Hoya said another reason is many Cambodian women are reluctant to work as domestic maids following previous bad experiences in Malaysia and decline to go to Singapore which is only recruiting maids under a pilot project.

He added a third factor could be there is already a large number of Cambodians who have migrated to work in Thailand and the numbers of those in rural areas is saturated.

During yesterday’s meeting, Mr Samheng said the ministry will continue to strengthen cooperation with partner countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and others to provide employment opportunities for Cambodian workers and ensure their rights are protected in the host countries when they return to the Kingdom.

He said the ministry is working with Asean countries to implement a pension scheme, with workers being able to transfer their seniority and social security benefits should they decide to work in another country within the region.

“We want to provide the same benefits for those working overseas as those working in the Kingdom,” Mr Samheng added.

There are currently around 1.2 million Cambodians working abroad and they remit a total of about $2 billion annually to their families in the Kingdom.

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