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Labour Ministry assistance helps workers through the worst of C-19

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Garment workers at a factory in Phnom Penh. Khmer Times

Cambodian workers have been able to weather the storm of the pandemic with assistance from the Ministry of Labour such as monthly allowances, skills training and healthcare.

Minister of Labour Ith Samheng on Wednesday said: “According to the assessment, the [COVID-19] impact on the livelihoods of workers in the labour sector is at a manageable level and has already gone through the most difficult stages.”

Lork Kheng, chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Commission who presided over the meeting of the Labour Ministry’s report, said that the ministry has a great responsibility to find jobs for the people to make their lives better.

She said it is necessary for people to have a job or a business that can support their livelihood and the ministry has a role to teach skills to work at institutions, companies, factories and enterprises or to create their own business.

Samheng described several of the strategies implemented to assist workers.

First, the government provided a monthly allowance of $40 to 340,032 garment and tourism workers, totalling $23 million during the employment layoffs and factory suspensions.

Second, soft skills training was organised by the ministry for a total of 66,607 workers, of which 53,610 were women, from 107 factories.

Third, the ministry provided social security services and health care to approximately 380,000 workers suffering from an occupational accident, even if the employer did not pay contributions to the National Social Security Fund.

Fourth, the ministry organised special training courses for 6,500 workers who lost their jobs due to the effects of the COVID-19 to earn technical and vocational degrees free of charge on key skills that are in high demand. Students received an allowance of $50 per month during the four months of training.

Fifth, 674,146 poor and vulnerable families representing approximately 2.7 million people received government subsidies at a total cost of approximately $135.5 million.

Sixth, the ministry provided labour market information to more than 2.3 million job seekers through the job platform on mobile apps, Facebook and websites.

Samheng said that the suspension of employment contracts of garment and tourism enterprises peaked in June 2020, when 433 factories, equivalent to 153,336 workers, were suspended. As of the end of December 2020, only 150 factories, equivalent to 23,682 workers, were suspended.

He said that in 2020, 1,356 enterprises closed and 108,825 workers lost their jobs with 1,103 factories later reopening and 61,257 additional jobs recreated. In the same period in 2019, only 969 enterprises closed and 85,889 workers lost their jobs.

“On behalf of the National Assembly, I acknowledge the ministry’s efforts to find good strategies and methods to help alleviate the struggles of people during the COVID-19 pandemic”, Kheng said.

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