Minister of Labour Ith Samheng yesterday hit back at critics claiming the high number of workers migrating to other countries for work is a sign of a weak Cambodian job market.
Speaking at the Intercontinental Hotel after presenting the ministry’s National Employment Policy for 2015 to 2025, Mr Samheng claimed at least 90 percent of able workers in Cambodia were employed.
Mr Samheng explained that due to the developing situation in the country, many other workers sought work elsewhere before returning to work in Cambodia.
“The country is developing from an agricultural-based to industrial-based economy,” he said.
“So that’s why so many workers take jobs abroad, to work and learn skills at factories that have not yet opened in Cambodia.”
“We are appealing to new factory owners to invest more in Cambodia and create new jobs for our people,” he added. “This is in the government policy until 2025.”
More than one million Cambodians work in Thailand alone, from where at least 5,000 of them recently fled during a Thai government crackdown on illegal workers.
After the exodus, a spike in online criticism against the government – claiming it was not doing enough to create domestic job opportunities – led Mr Samheng to hit back yesterday.
“Migrating abroad to work is not a problem,” Mr Samheng said.
“The real problem is that we need to ensure workers migrating abroad are kept safe and are not victims of trafficking or labour abuses.”
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement regarding alleged abuse against 600 workers in Thailand at a chicken factory, shooting down claims that surfaced online that the workers were being abused.
“The Cambodian workers are paid $180 to $320 per month and the Thai employer give them rooms to live and also free food,” the statement said, noting that officials visited the factory.