Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday justified the need for Chinese workers in the Kingdom by saying that local workers still lack expertise.
Mr Hun Sen, during his inspection visit to Morodok Techo National Stadium, said Chinese nationals working in the Kingdom are permitted for employment and that their expertise is needed for development projects.
“Why are there Chinese workers working in Cambodia? It’s because we do not have enough workers and we also lack technical expertise,” he said. “All these construction projects are not as simple as just building. Both the state and private sectors are demanding high technical [skills] for their construction projects.”
He noted that once the construction of the Morodok Techo National Stadium finishes, all citizens, young and old, will be allowed to visit.
“We will ask them whether or not our Cambodian workers had enough ability to make this kind of building,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He noted that in the past, Chinese experts have shared their knowledge with Cambodians and returned home to their families.
“If we look back to several years ago, garment factories had hired foreign experts – not just from China – because we didn’t have enough technicians,” Mr Hun Sen said. “In recent years, garment factories, and other factories, pulled out their foreign technicians after Cambodia was able to provide its own experts.”
He said Cambodians should understand the need for Chinese expertise.
“We have to understand this situation,” Mr Hun Sen said. “When their work is complete, they will not live here, they will return home.”
Yann Thy, secretary-general of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, yesterday said even though Mr Hun Sen has a point, the government must do more to train local workers.
“I think his speech is right, but not all of it,” Mr Thy said. “We accept that our Cambodian workers are lacking skill and ability, but the government has to train those lacking in skill and ability.”
He noted that the rise of Chinese workers in the Kingdom is still an issue because they are treated differently than local workers.
“The government has not regulated the number of Chinese and Cambodian workers,” Mr Thy said. “In some places, there are too many Chinese workers – and they receive higher wages.”
“In Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodian construction workers receive between $10 and $13 per day, while Chinese construction workers receive at least $40 per day,” he noted.
He said that even the accommodations provided to Chinese workers are different than the ones provided to local workers.
Mr Thy noted that local workers will lose job opportunities and income when Chinese workers are employed in the Kingdom, which affects the living standards of local workers.
Labour Ministry officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.