Food and Service Workers Ask for Government Support to Weather COVID-19

Members of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation ask for support in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on June 10. Photo:  Cambodian Center for Human Rights
  • Phoung Vantha
  • June 11, 2020 12:07 PM

Around 80,000 workers find themselves with no job since KTVs, nightclubs and casinos are closed

PHNOM PEHN—About 30 workers from the Cambodian Food And Service Workers Federation (CFSWF) gathered in the rain in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on June 10 to ask for support to help with living expenses while they are unemployed due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

They asked the government for $40 per person per month as the authorities are providing unemployed garment and tourism workers—in those sectors, the government agreed to pay $40 per month to suspended workers registered with the Ministry of Labor while employers pay $30 a month.

 The CFSWF workers also asked for government support to have landlords reduce their room rentals by 50 percent while they have no job.

Tem Sreymech worked for a KTV (karaoke club) until the Cambodian government ordered the temporary closure of all KTVs, nightclubs, cinemas and casinos last March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Originally from Kratie Province, she finds herself unemployed with a bank loan to pay, two children and her parents to support, she said.  "I have to pay $ 70 a month for a…room plus water and electric costs."

She now does laundry and any work she can find. But getting $40 a month would make a huge difference, Sreymech said. She also would like to see water and electricity rates as well as room rent reduced while she is unemployed.

According to CFSWF President Ou Tepphallin, about 80,000 workers have been affected by the closure of KTVs, nightclubs, cinemas and casinos. Many of them have returned to their villages or towns, she said. A few have managed to find work cleaning dishes in restaurants while others have turned scavengers, Tepphallin said.   

On June 10, the CFSWF workers’ petition was received by a ministry’s representative but no response was made, she added.

Asked about the petition, Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, said Thursday (June 11) that the government has a package of social assistance interventions for the general population, with a budget of approximately $300 million.

Social assistance programs are there to help poor families and migrant workers when they return home, Sour said. Workers can apply for or obtain employment through social assistance programs, he added.


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