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Vigilance needed as factories remain open

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Garment workers leave factory after work in Toul Sangke I commune. KT/Pann Rachana

Public markets, grocery stores, factories and restaurants will continue operations despite the COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday as other establishments faced temporary closures last week.

Speaking at a volunteer meeting, Mr Hun Sen said: “The local authorities might get confused and announce the suspension of operations of such establishments. Don’t be confused. Those businesses will run as usual. The government has only temporarily closed schools, KTV parlours, cinemas and museums to curb further spread of the virus.”

He praised some factories as well who promoted good hygiene amid the crisis. “Some factories have done well. They broadcast preventive measures while their employees are working.”

On Tuesday, the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia released a statement appealing for unity among its stakeholders.

“To all buyers, please don’t give up on Cambodia. We urge you to fulfill your existing contractual obligations of accepting the delivery of finished products, as well as those being manufactured, and pay in accordance to the agreed terms. This will allow us to be able to pay our workers and continue our operations,” it said.

To factory owners, it said: “The safety of the workers come first. Please stay vigilant and maintain a clean working environment to protect our workers and help prevent the spread of the virus.”

Addressing the workers, the GMAC statement said, “Be part of the solution by following instructions specifically the mandate of social distancing. Wash your hands often and do not touch your faces.”

“Together, we can surely overcome this pandemic, protect our wellbeing and ensure the survival of our businesses,” the statement concluded.

Cambodian Labour Confederation Ath Thorn said factory workers have taken the brunt of the pandemic as factories across the Kingdom suspend their operations due to shortage of raw materials.

He appealed to the government to facilitate the payment of 20 percent of the wages of workers who had been temporarily suspended. He also called on workers to take extra caution in their workplace, as well as for the upcoming Khmer New Year.

“To the workers, please wear protective masks and wash your hands regularly. For the New Year’s celebrations, stay safe and be mindful of your health as you take buses or trucks to get home,” said Mr Thorn.

Meanwhile, nearly a thousand workers of the capital’s Kenteran factory today staged a protest over underpayment and irregular wages.

One of the workers, San Sopha, said in the last few months, the company had been paying their wages irregularly making it difficult for the workers to support their daily living.

“We demand the company pay our wages on time and regularly. During the last pay date, some workers only got half of their salary,” said Ms Sopha.

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