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Cambodia: Child labour in brick kilns remains although authorities have taken actions to combat the issue

Author: Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 12 February 2020

"Expose reveals child labor in Cambodian brick kilns despite crackdown", 13 February 2020

Cambodian children are working in brick kilns across the country despite a recent government declaration that all furnaces were free of child labor following a state crackdown, …

Kiln visits …, a soon-to-be-released survey by the workers union, and interviews with police sources revealed widespread child labor in the brick industry.

Thousands of Cambodian families are estimated to be victims of bonded labor in the brick sector, where kiln owners offer loans to struggling workers and leverage the debts to trap them.

Scrutiny of Cambodia’s construction boom - driven largely by Chinese investment - is growing after a government drive to stop children working at kilns and two recent building collapses that killed scores of laborers and relatives living on site.

…, an official said all 486 kilns across Cambodia were free of child workers, defined as those aged under 15.

Labour ministry spokesman Hen Sour rejected their claims.

“If you ask about labor inspections, the ministry of labor is the only source of information,” he said. 

…A survey of 464 kilns by the Builders and Woodworkers Trade Union Association (BWTUC) found almost 4,000 children living in brick yards - 16% of whom said they were also working on site.

The report … said the true extent of child labor at brick kilns could be higher as children are often used as casual workers during busy periods.

Suor of the labor ministry said that the discrepancy between the government’s findings and the union’s survey was likely due to “different methodologies”…

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