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22 Apr 2021

Sorn Sarath, CamboJA

Cambodia: Garment workers struggle to survive in lockdown areas as surge of COVID-19 cases causes mass closure of factories and disruption of payroll

"Mass closure of garment factories leaves workers unpaid, struggling to survive in lockdown", 22 April 2021

Many of the thousands of garment workers now under Cambodia’s strictest COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are finding themselves unpaid, suspended indefinitely from the capital area’s hundreds of factories and, as of yet, with little help from outside.

Vann Bora, an employee at a garment factory in the Choam Chao I commune of Pur Senchey district, said he and other workers have made do in the “red zone” with little help either from their employers or the state.

“I have not yet received my first payroll and we hope to get paid during this difficult time. I just received some food donations from the landlord, and have yet to get food assistance from the authorities,” he said…

Yang Sophorn, president of Cambodian Alliance Trade Unions, said the Ministry of Labor seems to favor employers, leaving employees in dire straits.

“[Many of] the workers now owe money to the banks or microfinance institutions and are still required to pay, even in such a situation as this” she said. “This [approach] is not to help workers in difficult times, but to make them even more difficult.”…

The main industry group representing the sector, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), has said the lockdown is also seriously disrupting employers.

Even factories outside the lockdown zone are also affected, the association stated, as many staff members reside in the closed capital area. With workers prevented from going to work, these ostensibly free factories are still unable to operate normally…