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Construction workers denied paid leave

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
A survey of 1,000 Phnom Penh construction workers found less than 10 percent received paid holidays or knew about health benefits. KT/Mai Vireak

More than 90 percent of construction workers in the capital do not receive paid holiday, a survey into the industry has revealed.


The research, by the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, interviewed more than 1,000 construction workers at 48 construction sites across Phnom Penh.

It found the vast majority were denied paid holiday, although 79 percent of workers were allowed unpaid leave.

According to findings of the study published yesterday, more than half of construction workers were farmers before joining the industry

More than 90 percent said they were unaware of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), while 12 percent reported working on very unsafe sites where injuries were common.

A further 48 percent said they worked on somewhat safe sites, with a moderate rate of injuries and average conditions, while 40 percent said their workplaces were very safe and relatively injury-free.

The sites were rated on the prevalence of flooding or unsanitary conditions, electronic hazards and safety equipment.

Acting BWTUC president Sok Kin said the survey was a pilot project for wider research planned for the whole country.

“We spent about six months from January completing our survey,” he said, adding that union officials interviewed 1,010 construction workers face to face.

He said 750 of the workers were helping construct residential buildings, while 174 were working on commercial buildings and 55 were working on infrastructure development.

“The situation facing construction workers in our country is still bad, with poor work conditions, wages, health and safety,” said Mr Kin.

“Construction workers do not have a minimum wage like the garment and footwear industry yet.”

He said a lack of access to health benefits pose the greatest risk to workers.

“We want the government to spread information about the NSSF to construction workers,” he said.

BWTUC cooperated with LO Norway, the Solidarity Centre and Building and Wood Workers International to conduct the study.

Mr Kin said the union will cooperate with government when the nationwide survey starts.

William Conklin, director of the Solidarity Centre, said he wanted government to pay attention to improving conditions for construction workers.

“We want to see their wages and skills increased, as well as their problems addressed,” he said.

According to a 2016 report, there are between 190, 000 and 200,000 construction workers in the country.

Most construction workers work eight hours per day, six days per week. Their average daily wage is $7.50, or $180 per month.

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