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Minister: Benefits declaration for migrants likely at summit

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Labour minister Ith Samheng and other ASEAN delegates pose for a group photo at the 15th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor in Phnom Penh. MOLVT

Minister: Benefits declaration for migrants likely at summit

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng expects that the Cambodia-initiated “ASEAN Declaration on Portability of Social Security Benefits for Migrant Workers in ASEAN” will be passed by the bloc’s member states at the ASEAN Summit in November.

Speaking on the opening day of the 15th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour – held in Phnom Penh from October 19-20 under the theme “Resumption of Labour Migration and Regional Cooperation” – Samheng said the declaration had been agreed to at the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Meeting on October 13.

“This statement will be another vital achievement for ASEAN by realising the portability of social security benefits for migrant workers, in line with the spirit of ASEAN centrality and the protection and promotion of rights for migrant workers,” he was quoted as saying in the ministry’s press release.

The forum was attended by 100 participants from ASEAN member states, ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN employer federations and associations, trade unions, ASEAN Task Force on Migrant Workers as well as NGOs from the 10 member nations and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The multi-stakeholder open forum is an annual event held by the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) under their 2018-2025 Action Plan to implement the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

Samheng said labour migration is a global issue that impacts all countries and requires protections for the rights of migrant workers. For this reason, he said the Cambodian government and others in ASEAN had put in place several declarations on the protection of migrant workers.

He said Cambodia had put in place policies and legal provisions to support and to benefit migrant workers, both Cambodian migrants working abroad and foreign migrant workers in Cambodia alike. The Kingdom is also implementing bilateral labour cooperation with countries within ASEAN and outsides of the bloc.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has largely subsided for now, he urged all countries and stakeholders to focus on healthcare for migrant workers based on labour law implementation as well as social security for them so as to protect their rights.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the forum was held with two sub-themes: “Economic Recovery and Labour Migration” and “Rights Protection to Maximise Development Impacts of Labour Migration”.

Under the two themes, various topics were discussed such as the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy and on labour migration in ASEAN; the outlook for economic recovery in ASEAN; government plans and policies for reopening labour migration and procedures in recruitment and admission of migrant workers, among others.

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