Labour Ministry denies claims over NSSF faults

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Garment workers receive treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh after a series of faintings in 2012. Vireak Mai

Officials from the Labour Ministry’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) have denied allegations that its partner clinics offer poor medical treatment and discriminated against garment workers who checked in using the NSSF-issued ID card.

NSSF said in a statement that the facts were being “distorted” and dismissed claims that garment workers did not receive good-quality medicines or proper care compared to those who paid for their hospital visits. It also denied rumours that the cards would be discontinued shortly after the July 29 elections.

“We wish to clarify to the public and garment workers holding NSSF cards that there is no difference in the treatment and medicine provided to them or paying customers at any partner hospital,” said an NSSF statement dated June 10.

The statement also said that NSSF cards will not have an expiry date and that if an NSSF cardholder heard others distorting the facts, it should be reported to the authorities so legal action could be taken.

Chhea Vino, a union chief at Top Summit factory in Phnom Penh, said his union has received several complaints from workers who used the NSSF cards.

“We used to receive complaints from workers that those who paid for treatment received faster and better services. Medicine that is given to patients was also of poor quality and not effective, forcing them to seek further treatment at private clinics,” he claimed.

Vino said the NSSF’s “clarification” mattered little because the complaints are real.

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said his members had heard that NSSF services are “not good”. However, he admitted that there is no clear evidence of this.

“NSSF should not be angry or threaten legal action. They should investigate to determine whether the claims about poor quality are true. And if true, improve the quality to make it better. How can you improve the situation if you restrict people’s criticism?” he asked.

Kul Than, 38, who has been working at Top Summit factory since 2013, said during her menstruation last month, she lost a lot of blood and a friend took her to an NSSF partner clinic for treatment.

She claimed that after she was checked in with her NSSF card, she was told to wait for treatment because it was the staff’s dinner time.

“After waiting for 30 minutes, I was told to go to another hospital because no doctor was available. When I heard that, I felt very scared because we came to get help from a doctor,” she said.

As of press time, NSSF spokesman Cheav Bunrith had not responded to The Post’s requests for comment.