Labour ministry: “The attitude has changed”

There is a new image in construction in Cambodia, which is far different from that of 10 years ago, said Dr. Huy Hang Song, Secretary of State from the Labour Ministry, during an interview with the Green Net team. He observes the demand from this industry has enabled more and more women to join the workforce, which was not normal at all in the past.

And following this trend, the salary for construction workers, which people usually think is low, in fact has increased more than in the past. Right now the lowest daily wage a worker gets is around US$5, so if they work 26 days and earn US$130 a month, it is quite a good income for them.

“We can say this salary is not considered as good as the minimum wage in the garment industry but it is reasonable according to the market prices,” he said.

In response to the issue of unequal pay between female and male construction workers, he thinks the attitude has also changed. The ministry has set up vocational training programs, which help students to learn relevant skills for their employment. Women who do pure labour work in construction might be lower paid because they do not have men’s physical strength. However, those women who have received proper vocational training in skilled construction labour, he observes, tend to get higher pay than men, because they are more skilled than the men.

Dr. Huy also acknowledges the lack of proper work contracts and safety protection at construction sites, compared to other sectors, a problem which the ministry is currently hoping to solve.

“We are working with the International Labour Organization as well as ASEAN member states to improve inspectors’ capacity to work in order to boost productivity and ensure good work conditions for workers, ” he said.