A labour rights group and a construction union held a seminar yesterday on migrant worker safety to raise the alarm that labourers may face unsafe working conditions if they choose to work in Qatar.
Rights group Central and the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia held the seminar and spoke to about 60 construction workers considering work abroad.
Dy Thehoya, program officer with Central, said that in 2016 Qatar informed Cambodia that it needed about 30,000 construction workers from the kingdom. An agreement was reached for workers to travel there, but none have been sent yet.
“We are holding this seminar today for you to clearly know more information before you choose to work abroad,” said Mr Thehoya. “According to an Amnesty International report, and international news, there have been many workers that have gone to Qatar and suffered under brutal conditions, some have even died.”
He added that Cambodia does not have an ambassador to Qatar, nor an embassy in the country, so aiding workers in need would be difficult.
Yan Thy, an official with the union, said some workers take jobs abroad after being promised high salaries without considering the possible safety risks.
“Working locally is better than working as a migrant abroad,” he said. “We do not know clearly about the working conditions in Qatar. We hope that this seminar will make you think twice before taking jobs abroad.”
Set Sal, 17, a construction worker from Prey Veng province, said he was considering working abroad before the seminar but was left uneasy afterwards.
“I earn $5 per day as a construction worker here and heard I could earn more abroad, but after hearing that some workers died while abroad, I’m not sure about going anymore,” he said.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said that even though Cambodia has an agreement with Qatar to send migrant workers there, none have been there yet.
“No Cambodian people have gone to Qatar officially via a company to work,” he said. “Before sending the workers, both countries are reviewing safety and working conditions.”
In 2016, the two countries reached an agreement to have up to 100,000 workers sent to Qatar, including 33,000 for a variety of projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.