Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday that the government will provide allowances to 32,000 factory workers, including 26,000 women, who have lost their jobs due to factory suspensions amid declining orders.
Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister of Economy and Finance, has submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister for allowances to be handed out to affected workers in 71 factories, Hun Sen said at an International Women’s Day ceremony in Phnom Penh.
The amount of the allowances will be the same as those given during Covid-19, he said.
While there is the issue of factory suspensions due to declining orders, there is also a demand for jobs elsewhere, Hun Sen said. He gave an example of a factory in Kampong Speu province where employers sought to hire about 3,000 workers. Hun Sen also urged the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to prioritize these opportunities for women.
With workers losing jobs, Hun Sen instructed Pornmoniroth to collaborate with factory owners to address the issue of garment factories being suspended. This new project, which will commence in April, aims to help these factories, similar to the measures implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hun Sen added.
A day earlier, Hun Sen said he had received a message from a union leader about an increasing number of suspended factories and workers requesting intervention.
Hun Sen emphasized that the global economic situation, particularly in the US and Europe, has led to a decline in orders from overseas, affecting Cambodia's garment industry.
Hun Sen also mentioned the government's previous efforts in supporting factories during the 2008 to 2009 economic crisis and the Covid pandemic in 2020 to 2021, where the government provided a grant of $40, with an additional $30 from factory owners, per suspended worker.
Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that the current suspension compared to the Covid era is not severe. He added that as he has seen in the Ministry report, there were less than 100 factories suspended and workers have requested union leaders to ask the government to provide social assistance.
“I expect the suspension will not last long and will come back to normal,” Sina told Kiripost.
“It will not be the same as the situation in the Covid crisis, we can not compare the current situation with Covid,” Sina said.
Workers have spoken to union leaders to spread the word to the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to set the amount of allowance supporting suspended workers, so they can meet daily spending, preventing labor disputes with factories, Sina said.
He added that during a recent meeting with the factories, they said that orders will return in six to seven months.
Sina noted that thanks to the government confirming the union leader’s request from workers, the two ministries are reviewing the provision of allowances, requiring workers to pay for suspension and increasing allowance benefits to pregnant women.