Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun yesterday announced there were 20 suspended factories in the province, affecting more than 8,000 workers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a press conference, the governor said in total, there are 1,300 factories and enterprises, employing around 95,000 workers across the province.
He said of these, 20 factories have suspended operations, affecting 8,675 workers.
“As per the government’s policy, all suspended workers must receive out-of-work allowances but due to a large number of workers furloughed, there could be delays in the payment process,” he said.
However,despite the closures many factories are still fully operational and have new orders coming in.
“Even though COVID-19 has taken its toll on some factories and the workers, others have continued their production. We suggest that workers still employed, work overtime because new orders are still coming in,” he said.
He added specifically that one of the factories which is still open produces medical supplies and is extremely busy.
“Health materials are needed more than ever during this time. Therefore the factory is very busy which is good for workers,” he said.
Even before COVID-19, Sihanoukville had been facing high unemployment and a lack of job opportunities, which the virus has only exacerbated.
Yi Soknang said she was left unemployed after her factory in Sihanoukville had suspended operations and she was forced to go back to her home in Kandal province.
“My company has filed for a two-month suspension. I am waiting for them to begin operating again,” she said.
“I hope that my company will soon open again after the virus situation is better because my livelihood and that of other workers’ depend on the wages from these factories,” she said.
Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said up to now, 433 factories and enterprises, 263 garment factories, 170 hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and tour companies have been suspended or closed due to the coronavirus.
He said widespread suspensions have displaced around 150,000 workers, with about 135,000 from the garment sector and 17,000 in the tourism sector.
He said the government has transferred out-of-work allowances for around two-thirds of the suspended workers.
“In total, 110,000 workers have received allowances, with $2.4 million paid out via Wing between May 28 and June 3,” he said.
“The ministry has prepared a further $12 million in its budget for future out-of-work allowances,” he added.