Unionist: “A minimum wage law is the solution to unequal pay”

Mr. Sok Kin from BWTUC explained his organization’s data about the general situation of construction workers in Cambodia.

He said of about 20,000 construction workers currently working in Cambodia, 70% of them are based in Phnom Penh. Unskilled construction workers earn US$120-200 a month while skilled labourers earn around US$300-450 on average, based on BWTUC data. There are almost 2000 construction companies currently operating in Cambodia, around 60% of which are still valid in the ministry registration system. However, there are tens of thousands of sub-contractors operating without this formal registration, which therefore do not follow standard labour law and give workers very low salary and little protection.

Based on the union’s survey in July of around 1000 construction workers, about 20% had encountered accidents but only 9% received medical treatment from their employers.

“This means 90% of all construction workers we surveyed do not have insurance to ensure their safety protection at the worksite,” he said.

Foreign construction companies tend to provide a complete safety equipment compare to Cambodian firms, he said, which account for 10% of total companies in the country.

Despite construction workers receiving higher pay than garment workers on a daily basis, they do not have other benefits such as annual leave, maternal leave, and other protection. So, in the end, the construction workers have to work constantly in order to get paid, and annually they earn less than garment workers.

Mr. Sok Kin hopes that the upcoming minimum wage law can be a solution for construction workers to receive equal pay and therefore give them financial stability.