Eight unions on Monday sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen to seek an intervention for furloughed employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unions, identified as Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, Cambo- dian Labour Confederation, Confederation of Cambodian Worker Movement, Independent Trade Union Federation, Collective Union of Movement of Workers and the Trade Union Federation for Workers.
The letter said that since early January, countries worldwide have been experiencing the deleterious effects of COVID-19 especially in the economy, citing the closure of factories, hotels, casinos, entertainment parlours and other economic blows in the transportation, construction and agricultural sector. Thus, the unions requested for the retention of benefits of furloughed employees to support their daily needs.
“The unions suggest at least 60 percent of the workers’ wages are paid amid the suspension of work to help them out,” it said. Unions also called on companies to not use the situation as an excuse to lay off employees and instead assist furloughed employees in their dealings with banks and micro-finance lenders.
CUMW president Pav Sina said the number of suspended factory workers will continue to rise if the pandemic drags on. As such, he urged landlords to reduce rental fees as well as banks and microfinance institutions to waive interest fees for the affected employees.
Thol Ung, 33, a construction worker in Russey Keo district said since operations in the site were temporarily halted, he has struggled to make ends meet. “This is a very difficult time. Since the suspension of our work, I have had no income. But I need to keep paying for rent and utilities like electricity and water,” he said.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the government has decided in principle to provide a social security fund of $70 per worker, of which $40 comes from the government while the remaining $30 is provided by employers.
The fund shall apply to workers of temporarily closed establishments.
The amount, said Mr Hun Sen, will be given to suspended workers without the need to attend skills training courses as training centres are temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.
According to the Labour Ministry, as of April, 91 factories have applied to suspend operations, affecting 61,500 workers.
The Garment Manufac- turers Association (GMAC) on Tuesday said that approximately 60 percent of its factories were severely affected by cancelled orders of ready-made garment exports due to the COVID-19.