Kingdom ranked best for workers in South Korea

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
South Korea’s Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jae-kap (centre left) gives flowers to Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour on Sunday. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training

Cambodia was ranked best among 16 countries that have sent migrant workers to South Korea. This was revealed in an annual assessment by the latter’s Human Resource Development Unit (HRD Korea) under the Ministry of Employment and Labour.

The ranking was announced during the 2019 Employment Permit System (EPS) conference, which was held in Seoul and attended by representatives from the 16 countries.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour expressed strong hope that the ranking will help boost the Kingdom’s quotas for sending workers to South Korea, which currently stand at some 54,000.

HRD Korea, he said, ranked Cambodia on eight aspects including its procedures for sending workers on short-term contracts, workers’ living standards during employment and the low number of illegal migrant workers.

Citing its assessment, he said Cambodia has the best Korean language testing centres that offer computerised tests. The number of Cambodian workers who succeed in life upon their return is also higher compared to those from other countries.

“While many countries are also sending their workers to Korea, Cambodia fares better than all of them. It is a factor that should help the Kingdom receive an increase of quotas for sending workers to that country,” he said.

The ministry said that after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with South Korea in 2017, Cambodia had sent more than 54,300 workers there. Most of them worked in the industrial sector and receive average wages of between $1,200 and $1,700 per month.

For this year, the South Korean government has imposed a quota of 4,400 workers. Sour said the new quota was expected to be announced early next year.

“Although some Cambodian migrant workers worked there illegally and have been deported to the Kingdom, we are still faring better than the other countries that also sent workers there,” he said.

Chhoeurn Somphors, a migrant worker in Korea, said working conditions there was better than in other countries, though some workers still faced medical problems and were abused by their bosses.

“Generally, if you work for a good boss at a good place, the salary is high and working

conditions are good. But some workers are also exploited by bad employers and forced to work overtime.

“As far as procedures are concerned, before I came to Korea, I had to spend as much as $4,000,” she said without elaborating.

Khun Tharo, the programme coordinator at the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central), said there are generally fewer irregularities in sending migrant workers to South Korea compared to other countries.

While applauding the ranking, he called on the government to lay out measures to protect workers and ensure they receive good employment upon returning to the Kingdom.

“Their vocational skills acquired in South Korea should be recognised upon their return. They can be assisted to integrate into the job market in Cambodia.

“This is important because, in the future, we cannot serve as a worker-sending country or sell manpower anymore. We must develop our human resources locally and create more jobs,” he said.