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Assistance for suspended workers needed

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Garment workers and a child outside their rental rooms. KT/ Siv Channa

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday laid out three calls of action amid the temporary suspension of operations of several factories in the Kingdom, which has been spurred by a shortage of raw materials coming in from China.

Speaking at a national road inauguration in Pursat province yesterday, Mr Hun Sen called on factory owners to refrain from terminating contracts of suspended workers following the announcement of the Ministry of Labour.

On Friday, the Labour Ministry issued a call for the implementation of the suspension of employment contracts for all garment and textile factories in the Kingdom affected by the shortage of raw materials.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said all concerned parties, including owners of enterprises, workers and professional organisations in the textile manufacturing sector, must adhere to the Labour Law in relation to the suspension of employment contract.

“Do not take this opportunity to interpret the suspension of contract as termination of employment or discrimination against unions. Anyone who does so will face the full force of the law,” he added.

Secondly, Mr Hun Sen urged microfinance institutions and banks to delay collection of payment of interest for the affected workers.

“Less than 20,000 of the garment workers across the Kingdom have been suspended. An estimated 50 percent of those borrow from banks and MFIs,” he said, adding that a meeting between Minister of Finance Aun Pornmoniroth and National Bank governor Chea Chanto will be held to monitor the problem.

In response, the Association of Banks in Cambodia and Cambodia Microfinance Association released a joint statement about the actions they will take to cushion economic blows brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

In the statement, it encouraged its members to continue to extend credit to priority sectors, particularly accommodation, tourism, construction, garment and footwear industries, to ensure business sustainability.

“Association members should remain considerate and realistic in dealing with the delays in repayment of debt in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak,” it said.

Finally, the third call was made to electricity supplier Electric du Cambodge (Electricity of Cambodia) and Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority. Mr Hun Sen urged the two institutions to delay the  collection of payment of utility fees for affected garment workers.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina yesterday expressed gratitude to the government for paying attention to the workers during their time of need.

Echoing the premier’s remarks, Mr Sina also urged factory owners to not use this opportunity as an excuse to terminate employment contracts to avoid having to pay 40 percent of their suspended workers’ wages.

He also called on the Ministry of Labour to iron out details concerning the ministry-led soft skills training courses for suspended workers. These include identifying venues and assigning highly-trained specialists to facilitate the courses.

Suspended workers who participate in the courses will receive 20 percent of their wages from the government, in addition to the 40 percent of the workers’ wages provided by their employers.


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