Month: January 2017

Soun Srey Ya

An outgoing woman, Soun Srey Ya, age 38, has been involved in construction work for about 10 years. She also experienced a few other jobs before working in construction, which included jobs as a morning-glory seller and as a garment worker. She quit the garment factory because of internal problems at the factory. After quitting, her neighbor asked if she wanted to work in the construction sector. Following her neighbor, Srey Ya started off at the 42 Tower construction site, receiving only US$3.50 a day. She’s been employed at the Aeon 2 construction site and Pong Peay City where her wage was doubled. Her job is tying rebar. Like other advocates, Srey Ya also raised her concerns about inequalities at work, for instance, getting lower wages than male counterparts. She demanded her basic right. She accepts calmly the nature of both genders and that men have more physical strength. ​ But she believes that what men can do, women can do too if they are taught. When asked if she has had any injuries, she …

Theourn Sophea

Theourn Sophea, a 25-year-old construction worker whose hometown is in Kandal province, has been working in this booming sector since she was 20 years old. Formerly a garment worker, Sophea quit the factory job and followed her husband to work at the construction site so that she could have time to look after her kids. Besides, she often fainted while working in the factory. When asked to compare the difficulty between the garment job and construction work, she said, “Both are the same. But the garment job is stricter – sometimes workers are forced to work overtime, while there is more freedom in construction work; however, the pay is very little.” Getting 17,000 Khmer Riel per day, Sophea’s job is to mix limestone, carry tiles and the mixed limestone. She sometimes assists three skilled construction workers at a time. Sophea tries to be cautious and careful, as much as she can, yet sometimes she has dropped tiles she was carrying on her own feet. Despite having five years experience in this sector, she still cannot …

Ros Theavy

A Neak Leoung residence, Ros Theavy, age 34, came to try out her luck in the capital in 2009. She first landed a job as a construction worker at a Diamond Island construction site. A former seller near the Neak Leoung ferry station, she says construction work is much more tiring and tougher than her previous occupation, however, she adds that it can help solve living problems. Theavy has just changed her workplace from Diamond Island to Borey Chamkarmon as the later provides better wages and working conditions. While working on Diamond Island, Theavy received 18,000 riels – 4,000 riels lower than her current workplace. Her duties are mixing and carrying limestone and sometimes cleaning as instructed by a foreman. We all have bad and good days; and life for this advocate is no different. Sometimes she faces challenges at work when she is assigned to mix five to six sacks of limestone, and on some days that can be seven to eight sacks. What’s more when she comes home, she does all the household …

Sor Saream

The youngest of 13 female advocates, Sor Saream is 15-years-old and has been working as a construction worker since she was 10. Saream mentioned that her parents have been involved in construction work for a long time. She said, “we were doing good; my father was a foreman. Unfortunately, we got cheated by a fellow foreman and had to borrow money from MFIs (which we all call “State”) to survive”. Because of her family conditions, she decided to drop out of primary school as soon as she could, saying she couldn’t keep up with the lessons. Since then, she has started to help her family by assisting her parents in construction and washing dishes at a restaurant to earn extra money. Saream used to do different jobs to help earn money for her parents. Washing dishes in a restaurant earned her 200,000 Khmer riels a month but the work was too intense. She had to get up at four o’clock every morning but wouldn’t finish until late at night. She worked there for only four …

Som Sodyna

Som Sodyna, 37, whose hometown is in Takmau, is struggling to make end meets as a construction worker. She was a garment worker before becoming involved in this sector with her husband for about a year. Having trouble with her health is one reason why she quit the garment factory and entered the construction sector. Despite the exhausting and extremely difficult nature of construction, Dyna did not give up. She is working hard for a daily wage of 20,000 Khmer riels. Normally, she assists one skilled construction worker, but sometimes she assists two to help her colleague out, that’s where the challenge begins. Sometimes, when urgent, she needs to carry many piles of tiles at a single time. Besides carrying tiles, she also mixes limestone and has to carry that as well. She said mixing limestone is tiring because she has to bend down constantly to mix it. Also, aware that this kind of job is transient, Dyna wants to change occupation. “This job is not permanent. If given an opportunity, I would like to …

Ros Thearin

The youngest of six siblings, Ros Thearin also known as Mey, aged 19-years-old, has been working at a construction site near Wat Phnom for a year. Young and inexperienced, Mey followed her two elder sisters to work as a construction worker as there is no more ferry running to and from Neak Leoung since the bridge was opened, so she has no place to sell anything anymore. Mey also followed her friends and quit school at the beginning of grade eight. She didn’t think too far ahead about her future and now says she regrets dropping out. Mey didn’t initially come to Phnom Penh to work in the construction sector. She worked in a garment factory before, but couldn’t stand the smell of the fabric; therefore, she quit the garment job. Mey started as an apprentice, like other female construction workers, and was given two tasks to handle – the mixing and carrying of limestone. But now she is doing different tasks ranging from cleaning, running workers’ timesheet and storage. “It is quite easy for …

Nup Sara

Nup Sara, who is just 33-years-old, has been working as a construction worker with her husband for about 10 years at many different sites. And now she’s based in Borey Piphub Thmei Chamkardoung. Sara lost four children and hope in this maze of bricks; she cannot move anywhere far from this sector, saying it’s her only choice to survive. Before this, Sara was a garment worker; she quit due to her health and the conditions of the job. But following her husband to work at the construction site didn’t make her health any better. In fact her health is getting worse day by day as the construction job is far more difficult. She said she had five children, but only one daughter is left. The other four passed away at very a young age because of disease. When Sara was six months pregnant with her third child, she was still carrying limestone for her husband. “I think the reasons why my children couldn’t survive was because I had carried loads of heavy stuff. When I …

Tuy Oeurn

Previously a rice transplanting coolie in L’vea Em – her hometown – Tuy Oeurn, 38, has worked on construction sites in Phnom Penh for about six to seven years. Oeurn said, “I work one day to eat for one day. My daily wage is 20,000 Khmer riels, and my expense is the same.” She is an apprentice, and her duty is to carry and mix limestone. Some days, she said, it’s so tiring because she needs to assist more than one skilled construction worker at a time. Since working as a construction worker for almost 10 years, she has never had any savings, for she spends on food daily, sometimes on her children’s and her own medicine and even worse she still has to pay off her debts. No matter how difficult the nature of the job is and how exhausted she is, she keeps working as hard as she can for the future of her two daughters who are living on site with her and studying at a school nearby. Oeurn is a person …

Meas Rothana

Meas Rothana, 28-years-old, is new to this construction work; she started working in the sector six months ago at the Vattanac construction site. Previously a garment worker in Kampong Speu province, she was fired because of asking for days off too often, as her children were sick and she had to take care of them. She said the job is much more demanding, but the wage is lower than the garment factory job. She is a cleaner, responsible for cleaning the construction area, and collecting trash. “Though my job seems to be easier than my peers, there are also some challenges that I need to overcome.” Rothana’s challenges are carrying the trash down from high floors and sometimes the trash is very heavy and full of metal debris. Moreover, sometimes she must go clean the area full of electrical wire; therefore, she needs to be cautious at all times. Despite the challenges of the job, she received only US$6 per day at the start, less than her male counterparts. “We are always considered weak, while …

Nop Seourn

A 40-year-old single woman, Nop Seourn is spending her days on the construction site just for her own survival. Before starting as a construction worker Soeurn was employed as a domestic worker at her hometown, L’vea Em District, Kandal Province. After growing tired of her former job, she asked her eight siblings about her next move. They told her to work in the construction sector, since all of them also worked there. Seourn has been working for three years. She first began in Borey Peng Hout, and now she’s an apprentice in Borey Piphub Thmei Chamkardoung. Her responsibilities involve mixing and carrying limestone. “Working in this dangerous job, it’s impossible to avoid injuries,” Seourn said, adding that she had stepped on nails and was seriously injured after falling from a three-meter scaffold. Receiving a daily wage of 19,000 Khmer riels, she said she can’t save because construction wages are paid once per week or twice a month. She said, “it gets thinner and thinner, whenever I receive payment I have to spend it immediately.” She …