Cambodian Construction Workers Urge Government To Provide Improved Benefits

Cambodia villagers
Villagers race their ox-carts ahead of Khmer New Year in Kampong Speu province, Cambodia, April 7, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Samrang Pring)

Over 200 construction workers united on Monday to call on the Cambodian government to provide the same benefits that other sectors in the country receive. The call was made on World Health and Safety Day.

According to the Khmer Times, President of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation, Sok Kin, said Monday's event highlighted the need for further coverage for construction workers under the National Security Fund.

The event was themed "Promotion of Health, Safety and Social Protections for Workers in the Construction Sector" and allowed for discussions on wages, safety, health, and working conditions that Cambodian construction laborers faced.

Kin noted that many workers in Cambodia's construction sites face multiple dangers in comparison to those working in other industries. He said the government should consider extending NSSF coverage for these laborers.

In Cambodia, construction workers who suffer through an accident are not completely covered by their employees or the government's NSSF subsidies. The NSSF recently revealed that 34,808 construction workers suffered through injuries in 2018.

Earlier this year, it was revealed by the Cambodian Ministry of Land Management that in Q1 of 2017, unskilled workers in the construction industry earned somewhere between $8.75 to $10 a day. It was worse for female workers who earn $5.

In January, Kin said construction workers are pushed to work every day because if they don't they won't have anything to eat. The job also comes with no health benefits and no public holidays off.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said late last year that the government is working to set a minimum wage for construction laborers. He said the goal is to help them earn a more decent living and hopefully put an end to exploitation.

In February, the Cambodian Labor Ministry joined hands with Japan to help train construction workers for increased safety and added skills. At that time, it was revealed that Japanese officials have been working with the ministry to open more opportunities for construction employees.

Over 9,000 Cambodian construction laborers are currently working in Japan's construction sector and the Ministry is hoping that the numbers will add up in 2020. The initiative looks to improve the knowledge and skills of those being schooled in Japan so they can share their learning with their countrymen when they return.

The ministry added that it is expecting trained Cambodian workers to help develop and improve safety and knowledge of the country's construction sector as a whole. However, the government has yet to respond to calls for better NSSF coverage for workers.

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