Cambodian migrants in Thailand are to earn pension benefits as they work abroad, Labour Minister Ith Samheng has announced.
Meeting workers in Thailand yesterday, Mr Samheng said the government was discussing ways to make sure that migrants get equal access to pensions when they returned home.
He said that all private sector employees would be eligible to the same pension benefits as civil servants from 2019.
The Ministry of Labour is now in talks with the Thai government over how to recognise workers’ time abroad as a contribution to their final pension allocation, Mr Samheng added.
“The ministry is discussing the issue with Thailand under the framework of Asean,” he said.
“For example, when someone works in Thailand for four or five years and then returns to work in Cambodia, those four or five years will count toward their pension. Anyone who works for more than 20 years and is over the age of 60 will be eligible for a pension.”
He said the move would mean everyone is entitled to a pension, regardless of which sector they were employed in.
Mr Samheng also used the visit to give workers his views on the arrest of CNRP president Kem Sokha on treason charges.
He described Mr Sokha as a traitor who collaborated with foreigners.
“Some parties describe migrants who work abroad as slaves. Do not vote for them,” he said.
Dy Thehoya, a programme officer with labour rights group Central, said his organisation had raised the issue of migrant worker pensions with the government many times in the past.
“It will be easy to extend pension benefits to workers in Thailand because the countries already have a relevant memorandum of understanding with each other,” he said.
On Saturday, the National Police website reported that the Thai Labour Ministry wanted to reduce reliance on foreign workers from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos from next year.
It said that jobs in markets, restaurants and food sales would be restricted to Thai nationals.
According to a ministry report, there are 1.5 million legal and illegal Cambodian workers in Thailand.
An ongoing 100-day campaign is seeking to legalise more than 200,000 workers.