Aid for factory workers ends

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Factory workers’ temperatures are taken before their shift in Kakab II commune of Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district in June last year. Heng Chivoan

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced that it would halt financial support for more than 320,000 factory workers who were laid off due to their factory suspending work because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 320,000 workers are from more than 550 garment, footwear and travel goods factories that saw steep declines in the volume of their orders due to the pandemic.

According to the ministry’s announcement dated January 18, it is now time to end financial support for these workers because the Covid-19 situation at factories and enterprises is improved and under control and many of the closed factories have reopened.

“The government is ending the implementation of financial support of $40 per month for workers in garment, footwear and travel goods factories who were suspended, effective from January 2022 onwards,” it said.

The ministry said financial support will still be provided for laid-off workers in the tourism sector until it recovers from the pandemic’s impact.

“From the date of this announcement, the owners and directors of factories and enterprises in garment, footwear, travel goods sectors must implement their contract suspensions according to article 71 and 72 of the Labour Law or the agreement signed between employers and employees,” the ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on January 19 that from the second quarter of 2020 to December 31 last year, a total of 552 factories had suspended some parts of their contracts with workers.

“Financial support during the Covid-19 crisis was provided to 329,694 workers and the government spent a total of more than $23 million,” Sour said.

Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thon said he had noted that factories in the sectors of garment, footwear, travel goods and luggage were improving and workers were getting their jobs back in this sector gradually so ending the support shouldn’t affect workers much.

He also supported the ministry’s decision to keep providing support for workers in the tourism sector as this sector still suffers from the impacts of the pandemic.

“Workers in the tourism sector and at restaurants are still losing their jobs. They need money to live though this amount of money is small. They will face difficulties if they cannot get jobs,” he said.

Thon said he was afraid that Covid-19 and especially the Omicron will return to the community at large scale causing a big impact on the economy and leading to the further closure of businesses.

He said that it was expected that the tourism sector will widely reopen by June of this year should there be no large scale community transmission.