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Workers feel pain as entertainment establishments remain closed

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The Health Ministry in March shuttered entertainment establishments to stem the spread of coronavirus. KT/Pann Rachana

Displaced workers from the entertainment industry yesterday appealed for an intervention from the government as they struggle to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Their appeal comes after the government, in the past few weeks, announced a COVID-19 stimulus for affected workers in the garment and tourism industry.

The Ministry of Health on March 17 shuttered KTV establishments, nightclubs and cinemas nationwide in response to the surge of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom at the time, leading to the widespread displacement of workers in the entertainment industry.

Cambodia Food and Service Workers’ Federation yesterday met with two representatives of entertainment workers to hear their concerns about the closures.

Ngoun Srey, a worker at a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh, yesterday said she has been out of work since the closure was enforced.

“We worked in the entertainment industry. We also need help from the government as we have also lost our jobs and are now unable to support our daily needs,” she said.

Another entertainment worker Som Sophea said after being suspended from her job as KTV staff, she has been working as a part-time dishwasher in a restaurant.

“We find it difficult to find another job as most establishments are not hiring. I have no income yet. I have to pay for monthly rental and utility fees,” said Ms Sophea, adding she has borrowed money to support her family’s daily living.

On Monday, the Health Ministry said KTV establishments will remain closed despite no new COVID-19 cases reported in the Kingdom in the last three weeks.

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said although Cambodia has effectively curbed the spread of coronavirus in the country, the possibility of a second wave of infections remains on the horizon.

Constant vigilance must be exercised in Cambodia as several countries continue to struggle to contain the virus, he said, adding: “If you want to sing, you can do it at home with your family; not in karaoke bars.”

CFSWF president Ou Tep Phallin said last week 80,000 workers of entertainment establishments – most of which employ women – have borne the brunt of the nationwide closures.

On Labour Day, representatives of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union and the Cambodian Tourism and Service Worker’s Federation sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, suggesting the government ensure that furloughed employees receive 60 percent of their wages during COVID-19.

They also asked for the government’s intervention in cases where employers shut down operations or terminate workers to avoid remuneration of compensation and additional benefits to workers.

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