Cambodian migrant workers at a tuna processing company in Thailand have had their passports confiscated by their employers and are effectively trapped in substandard work conditions, research released yesterday revealed.
Non-profit research organisation Finnwatch said it had found a number of “problems” with working conditions at Thai Union Manufacturing (TUM), a factory in central Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province that supplies to big brands including John West and Petit Naview. …
Furthermore, all workers interviewed had been hired as day labourers and did not have a regular monthly income. TUM is the largest processing unit of tuna in Asia and employs almost 9,000 people – about half of whom are migrants from Cambodia and Myanmar. …
Approximately 150 parliamentarians, government officials, recruitment agency representatives, trade unions leaders, and development partners gathered here on Monday to discuss ways and measures to promote and protect the rights of Cambodian migrant workers.
Speaking at the opening of the parliamentary forum on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, said that migrant workers have actively contributed to developing economy and society and the migrant workers overseas bring home money and skills.
“However, illegal migrant workers are often trafficked and abused sexually,” he said. “Therefore, we need to work together to discourage people from illegal migration.” …
One of the biggest challenges to protecting Cambodian migrant workers is the sheer distance between their homeland and the countries they are working in, Ministry of Labour officials said yesterday.
A pattern has emerged in which brokers lure more and more Cambodians away from traditional border-country migration to far-flung places like Korea and Indonesia, said Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Vong Soth during a preliminary regional conference ahead of the ASEAN forum on migrant worker protection to be held in Phnom Penh next month. …
ASEAN “plus countries” such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Korea and Hong Kong, many of which have bilateral migrant worker agreements and frameworks with Cambodia, also sent representatives to attend the two-day conference. …
Sen David, P. 5
Cambodians working in South Korea this year are expected to remit up to US$80 million to the Kingdom as up to 40 per cent more Cambodian labour heads to the East Asian nation compared to last year.
The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training expects at least 7,000 Cambodians to migrate to South Korea this year in what is being called a safer and more lucrative destination for overseas workers.
Of the five ASEAN states with permission to send labourers to Korea, Cambodia now ranks No 1, according to the Ministry’s Chief of Overseas Manpower Heng Sour. …
Korea has earned a solid reputation for higher pay without the hazards associated with working in Malaysia, where rights groups have reported the abuse of maids, many of whom are believed to be under-age. …
Rann Reuy, P. 7
More Cambodian migrant workers headed to South Korea in the first half of this year than in all of 2011, data from the Ministry of Labour shows.
A suspension on Vietnamese migration, coupled with an improving Korean economy, primarily accounted for the jump, officials say. …
Working conditions in South Korea had gained recognition for being better than some of the destinations Cambodian migrants flocked to, such as Malaysia, [Ya Navuth] said. …
May Kunmakara, P. 7
Fifty-eight Cambodian migrant workers, 40 of whom who were reportedly arrested and beaten by the police in Thailand’s Songkla province last month, returned to their home provinces on Saturday after their employer gave back their passports, said a worker representative yesterday.
“We don’t know yet if we will go back to work or if we will stay,” said Lim Srun, 50, adding that their employer had paid for the return journey home. …
Phok Dorn and Dene-Hern Chen, P. 23
Human rights group Adhoc released a report on the state of Cambodian migrant workers yesterday, saying that tales of abuse from migrant workers and their families have increased five-fold compared to the same period last year.
Seventy per cent of this year’s 141 complaints concerned domestic workers abroad, Adhoc says, and the government’s moratorium on sending maids to Malaysia may be partially to blame for the spike in incidents. …
Sen David, P. 3
More than 100 Cambodian migrant workers were discovered in rented houses this week near Rong Kleu market in Thailand’s Sakaeo province, officials said yesterday.
Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesman Ouk Keo Ratanak said Thai authorites found the workers on Wednesday crammed into two houses, and sent them back to Cambodia. …
Mom Kunthear, P. 4
A rights group has raised concerns that up to 100 Cambodian migrant workers at a Thai seafood processing factory will be stranded abroad in less than a week without any income because they cannot afford to pay a passport fee demanded by their employer.
Of the 700 Cambodian workers at the Phatthana Seafood factory in Thailand’s Sonkhla province, 20 to 30 per cent were undocumented and unable to pay the 6,500 baht (US$210) fee for passports, a Cambodian Legal Education Center report released on Tuesday states. …
David Boyle and Sen David, P. 2
A Malaysian couple were charged Friday with the murder of their Cambodian maid, who police suspect may have died of prolonged starvation.
The alleged abuse case of Mey Sichan, who would have turned 24 in September, is one of many that have caused both Cambodia and Indonesia to suspend sending maids to Malaysia…
…Mey Sichan was found dead by paramedics called by her employers on March 31. When found, she weighed 26 kilogrammes (57 pounds). She also had bruises on her body.
Police said she died from acute gastritis and ulcers likely due to lack of food over a long period. The maid had been working for the family for eight months…
Cambodia migrant workers seeking to leave allegedly exploitative conditions at the Phatthana Seafood factory in southern Thailand said yesterday that they were still being forced to pay to get their passports back.
The factory, which exports fish to buyers across the world including Walmart, has come under fire from its migrant employees, who have said they were tricked on pay conditions, while rights groups allege the workers are victims of human trafficking. …
Sen David and David Boyle, P. 4
Protecting human rights, especially those of Cambodian migrant workers traversing borders to countries such as Malaysia, dominated discussions at yesterday’s ASEAN Peoples’ Forum, one of two competing pre-summit forums that claim to be giving a voice to Cambodians. …
Speaking at yesterday’s forum, Seng Sakda, director-general of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said the government would look to ASEAN as it sought to improve conditions for Cambodians travelling to other countries to work.
“The Cambodian and Malaysian governments are preparing an MoU to protect our workers, including those who travel to work as maids,” Seng Sakda said. …
Sen David and Shane Worrell
Almost 120,000 Cambodians who illegally crossed into neighbouring countries in search of work were repatriated during 2011, new figures from the Ministry of Interior have revealed, prompting a senior ministry official to call for a re-evaluation of how Cambodian workers are treated abroad.
Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the ministry, told the Post on Friday that Cambodian embassies had facilitated the return of workers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, East Timor and Saudi Arabia…
Chhay Channyda, p.3
A Cambodian migrant worker in Thailand has said that a recruitment firm in Phnom Penh that sent him and about 1,000 others to work at an “exploitative” factory is threatening him because he spoke to the press.
Keo Ratha, 37, said yesterday he received a threatening phone call from CDM Trading Manpower after he spoke to the Post early this week about exploitative conditions at Pathana Frozen Food Factory in Thailand’s Songkla province…
Meas Sokchea, p.3
The government has approved Qatar as a destination for the growing number of Cambodian labourers seeking employment overseas.
Workers will not be recruited for housekeeping services, however, private sector officials said. The abuse of maids in Malaysia – many of whom were reportedly under-aged – has brought much scrutiny to the recruiting agencies that sent the women abroad.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday approved the agreement on domestic labour with Qatar that the two governments originally endorsed in 2008.
A statement from the Council of Ministers said the agreement would promote a higher level of private-sector cooperation between Cambodia and the gulf state, something in line with the Kingdom’s goals for globalisation. It would also curb illegal migration and mitigate the risk of a domestic labour shortage, the statement said…
May Kunmakara, p.7
The Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA) plans to propose a set of measures to the government that would put the association in charge of improving protection for Cambodian maids working in Malaysia.
A human rights worker, however, disapproved of the plan because it only involved the business association, which he said has done little to protect workers in the past…
Paul Vrieze and Hul Reaksmey, p.24
The government was urged yesterday not to start sending domestic helpers to Malaysia again until it had a Memorandum of Understand with Kuala Lumpur guaranteeing protection of Cambodian migrant workers there.
Ya Navuth, executive director of Coordination of Action Research on Aids and Mobility, also said his NGO welcomed the government’s decision last month to suspend sending domestic helpers to Malaysia following reports of extreme abuse there…