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 must pay back to the grocery seller nearby, and sometimes spend money on medicine. Worse, there are times her foreman doesn’t give her any wages. So at the end of the month, she has nothing left.
When asked whether she sees a future in her job, Seourn laughed,
“What future? I am trying these days for nobody since I don’t have children and family of my own. I am trying for my mere survival.”
She is going to stop working on construction sites next year. Seourn said, “I am not happy with what I am doing now, for it is exhausting and I still get cheated even when I work just for the sake of survival.” She plans to get back to her hometown and work her former job, the same as before coming to work as a construction worker.