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Domestic workers struggling to make ends meet

Som Kanika / Khmer Times Share:
IDEA representative Vorn Samphos, left, and domestic worker Vun Kim Srey talk about the ongoing plight of maids in the Kingdom. CENTRAL

As the spread of COVID-19 is kept under control in the Kingdom, some sectors have begun to recover with various businesses and enterprises looking to resume operations to regain losses incurred in the previous months.

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However, while some industries are faring better, others remain crippled, one of which is the domestic workforce.

Independent Democracy of Informal Economy representative Vorn Samphos expressed concerns about the challenges that the local domestic workforce is currently facing, saying a majority of Cambodian maids have lost their jobs. To make matters worse, she added, most of the displaced workers have fallen into debt as there are no welfare programmes or assistance from the government or any other institutions.

“Currently, our association has around 300 housemaids, including highly skilled and low-skilled ones, who have been rendered unemployed since the pandemic began. More than 170 others have received only 30 to 50 percent of their monthly salaries as their working days have been reduced,” said Ms Samphos.

“The remaining 400 domestic workers face a decline in their living standards despite remaining employed,” she added.

Domestic worker Vun Kim Srey told local media outlet CENTRAL: “I have been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic in Cambodia. It is very difficult to find a job nowadays as people have become warier of one another due to the fear of virus transmission.”

“Our situation continues to worsen as the presence of the virus continues to loom in the country. Most of us cannot pay back our debts as we have also lost our jobs. We are also having a difficult time keeping up with the soaring prices of other fees and products,” said Ms Kim Srey.

“From what I know, around 90 percent of the domestic workers have incurred debts from banks and micro-financial institutes,” she added.

Ms Samphos likewise lamented over the debts. “MFIs and banks said they won’t extend the payment deadlines despite the onslaught of the virus on everyone’s life.”

Taking note of the assistance provided to displaced garment and footwear factory workers, Ms Samphos said other workers, such as tuk-tuk drivers, street vendors and housemaids, are also in need of a financial reprieve from the government.

She urged relevant institutions to pay more attention to the difficulties faced by domestic workers in Cambodia, saying: “When the workers cannot earn any income to support their families, they are also unable to protect themselves from the virus as they can ill afford to buy masks or alcohol disinfectants.”

“The fear of not having enough food for the family is more important than not having sufficient gel and sanitiser in the house,” Ms Samphos noted.

 

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