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 men are considered strong. We do the same tasks and carry the same heavy trash. We deserve to have an equal pay.”
Rothana is not backing down from demanding what’s right and what she thinks she and her peers deserve. She had just started work when demanding a US$1 a day wage increase, so now she as well as her colleagues get US$7 for their daily wage. Besides working eight hours a day, plus overtime, Rothana sews at home for a Christian Church. She sews sweaters and winter hats. All material is provided by the church. Though It doesn’t pay much at least it helps to make ends meets.
Rothana doesn’t know when she will stop working at the construction site. If she stops, the only way for her is to go back to the garment factory. Talking about the future, she said if she had more savings she would build a house of her own so that she would not have to pay rent. When asked if she is happy with her job, she replied, “Yes, I am happy. If I’m not happy, I don’t know what to do because earning money is more necessary to my survival.”
She also has a final request for the construction companies and construction teams to recruit both women and men. She also wants them to increase women’s wages to be equal to that of men because men and women can and do the same job.