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 me as I am given lighter tasks to do.” Mey was injured in her first year of work, hurting her left leg in a two to three metre fall.
“If someone hadn’t grabbed me quickly, my neck would have been broken.”
She receives a daily wage of 18,000 riels. Not wanting to waste her time, she also works overtime after her usual working hours and gets the same amount as her daily wage again. So in total, she earns 36,000 riel per day. Though better paid than her peers, Mey still doesn’t like her job; she does it to avoid the boredom. She also believes there is no future in the sector, but she is not sure about what she wants to do next. She wants to own a small business, but hasn’t figured out what kind of business. So, for the moment, she said she will stick with the construction sector. When asked if there were any men who verbally harassed her in the work place, she replied, “There are a few as I am the only single female worker working on the site, but I ignore them.”