Brick kiln is fined $1,250 for exploiting child labour

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Authorities inspect a brick factory on Monday. Some 100 such facilities were visited over the last month, with one in Kandal province (not pictured) fined for using child labour. Ministry of Labour and vocational training

A Kandal province brick kiln was fined five million riel ($1,250) for using child labour, after some 100 such facilities were inspected as part of an ongoing check into illegal practices in the industry.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training working groups carrying out the inspections also banned the dangerous working conditions found at several other locations.

The checks were carried out over the past month in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie and Prey Veng provinces.

The efforts are part of a campaign that began on August 12 to enforce the labour law and ensure a child labour-free brick industry by next year.

Veng Hieng, the director of the Child Labour Department at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training who leads the working groups, told The Post on Tuesday that checks on brick kilns are being carried out nationwide.

The move is to crack down on all forms of slavery and forced labour in the industry, with working conditions also being inspected. It was also aimed at spreading awareness of the campaign so all kiln owners comply with the law.

Hieng said 10 to 20 locations each in the capital and the five provinces were inspected. Most of the facilities found to have not been fully compliant with the law had received instruction, he said.

“Around 100 brick kilns have so far been inspected by the ministry’s working groups. Provincial authorities will check any others that the groups have been unable to inspect so that all are visited.

“Any facility found to seriously breach the law will be fined. So far, we have imposed a fine of five million riel on a brick kiln in Kandal province that was found to be using child labour. This was not found at other locations, but some were banned due to their dangerous working conditions,” Hieng said.

There are around 400 brick kilns in the Kingdom employing between 5,000 and 6,000 workers, most of which are in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. Some 31 per cent of them use modern technology, he said.

Brick kiln owner Soeurng Rany, who employs 20 people in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong town, said she was not concerned about being inspected, and insisted that her facility met all technical standards and the law.

“Authorities have inspected my kiln regularly, so I am not concerned about being inspected again as I fully follow the law,” she said.

Rany said she had never employed children under 16 years. However, she said it could not be guaranteed that every kiln owner adhered to the law as she did.

Am Sam Ath, the monitoring manager for rights group Licadho, applauded the inspection of brick kilns and said it was something his organisation had been calling for.

He said the inspections should be carried out regularly and without informing the kiln owners or they would have time to prepare. “Regular inspections are needed to ensure brick factories do not exploit child labour.

“It is also necessary to check whether workers owed their employers money as this was a driving force behind the use of child labour,” Sam Ath said.