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Some 1.2 million of workers bear the brunt of Covid-19

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Garment workers stand in front of their rented apartments in the Stung Meanchey III commune, Phnom Penh's Meanchey district on April 24. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Some 1.2 million of workers bear the brunt of Covid-19

An estimated 1.2 million factory workers have been affected by the government’s lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province, which will now be extended to May 5, according to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesperson Heng Sour.

Sour told The Post on April 27 that according to a report he had received, about 400,000 of the 1.2 million affected workers live in locked down areas, while the remainder live outside but are employed by factories in the restricted zones.

Sour confirmed that although they cannot go to work, the factory workers would still receive their pay from employers for the work they did before the lockdown, along with an allowance from their employers and government assistance.

“They had worked in the first two weeks of April, so they received 50 per cent of their regular wages. For week three and four during lockdown, the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia (GMAC) is working with its members to mobilise as much financial support as they can afford to provide.

"Some factories still have purchase orders from abroad, but others have very limited resources at present,” Sour said.

He said that – more or less – all factories must have an assistance package for their workers while the government continues to provide food aid to those who are living in rented rooms.

Sour noted that after the inter-provincial travel ban was lifted on April 25, some workers had resumed travelling to work at the factories outside of Phnom Penh and Takmao.

“In brief, more than 60 per cent of garment factories are based in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. As the lockdown of Phnom Penh remains in place, the lift on the inter-provincial travel ban in reality has nothing to do with the operation of the factories in Phnom Penh.

“Only a small number of workers who travelled between Kampong Speu and Kandal or between Kandal and Takeo for their jobs can resume their work now, which is good for them of course, but really the travel ban affected only between five and 10 per cent of all factory workers,” he said.

The labour ministry estimates that approximately 100,000 factory workers and trade unionists have been vaccinated now with their first dose. After vaccinations resumed on April 25, another 8,700 workers then received their second doses, according to Sour.

He called on workers locked down in red zones and dark yellow zones to remain indoors, be patient and obey the new lockdown orders even if they have received their second vaccine dose.

“When the designations for red, dark yellow or yellow zones are announced then the factories in the yellow zones can resume their operations. But most factories are located in Por Sen Chey, Meanchey, Kambol and Dangkor districts, which are all facing high risk for infections.

“So, they should wait patiently until the Covid-19 transmission chain is broken – but as of now, many samples from these areas are still testing positive,” he said.

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