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Garment workers not at risk of coronavirus infection: Ministry

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Truck transports workers home from their factory in Kandal province. KT/Siv Channa

With the public concerned over possible coronavirus infection among garment workers, a senior labour ministry official said they are free of the virus.

Speaking at a press conference at the Council of Ministers on Monday, Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said workers who commuted to and from their homes to the factories on flatbed trucks were not mingling with strangers.

“The workers work together every day. When they enter their workplace, the management always checks their health. They travel in one truck together because they are all co-workers. There are no outsiders at all,” Mr Sour said.

He added the ministry has urged factory management to have workers wear masks while taking the trucks to workplaces and back home.

“The trucks transporting the workers should not carry outsiders. We have also asked truck drivers to clean their trucks every day to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Sour said.

“The garment workers work with a lot of people but they do not come in direct or indirect contact with [outsiders], so their working environment is safe,” he added.

Yang Sophoan, director of the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions, had a different view. She said garment workers are at risk of the virus infection because they sat close to each other when they go home in the trucks.

“The workers should follow the Health Ministry’s measure regarding social distancing. They travel on trucks together without distancing. That’s what we are concerned about,” Ms Sophoan said.

On March 19, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia has released a statement to deny an accusation by the Cambodian Confederation of Union that most factory employers have failed to implement preventive measures against the spread of the Coronavirus.

The GMAC stressed that safety and health of the workers were the number one priority in its business operating principle.

Their working environment is safe.

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