Advocate for Women and Maternity Benefits

Union representative Sous Sreylen has worked as a chef assistant and a garment worker. Photo provided

Union representative draws on experience

PHNOM PENH--Union representative Sous Sreylen has worked as a chef assistant and a garment worker. Now, aged 31 and pregnant, she works for Coca-Cola.

She appreciates the medical benefits she enjoys with the National Social Protection Fund (NSSF) and is urging women to join the union to address appropriately and respond to women's issues.

Sreylen has worked for Coca-Cola at the  Special Economic Zone in Phnom Penh for about six years. She has two children, aged six and one. Her third child is due in five months. 

It has been five years since she obtained the NSSF benefits that give her access to free health care and treatment. Because of her other priority expenses, including school fees, water and electricity costs and food, Sreylen tries to avoid spending money on medical bills. 

Being covered by NSSF, she can ensure that her pregnancy is healthy for both mother and baby.

"Before I had the NSSF card, I did not dare go to the hospital unless I had a severe illness. Now I feel more comfortable going for check-ups if I feel sick," she said. 

"I feel safer because I know NSSF would cover the medical cost for me," she said.

In addition, she said, "The company provides us with daily two-way transport, accommodation, and an additional $80 for nursing and childcare until the child turns three."

Sreylen has been a Cambodian Food Service Workers' Federation (CFSWF) member for three years. She attended workshops and training, which focused on nursing, maternal, new-borns and child health. 

In addition to capacity building and raising awareness of social protection and gender issues, she said the union helps workers to have decent work and income security. "Through collective action to bargain with the employers, we receive the benefits we deserve," Sreylen said.

 "There were cases where the employers unreasonably fired employees. We fought against them and got our members back to work."

Six months ago, she was elected as one of the union leaders representing her workplace. In her new role, she is committed to gathering and engaging women to join the union.

 "I'm delighted to be selected as a workers' representative. As a woman, I aim to promote women's role and encourage them to stand up for themselves and voice their concerns, and more importantly, to encourage more women to join our union," she said.

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