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Cambodia: Garment workers voice concerns over the spread of Covid-19 while working; govt. has no plan to suspend factory operations

"Garment Workers Concerned Over Potential Coronavirus Spread in Crowded Factories", 23 March 2020

…, garment workers, many with surgical masks covering their faces, are streaming out of a factory during their lunch break. As they pass the factory gate, they wash their hands with alcohol, repeating the safety measure when they return.

Buying rice outside the factory, Sae Vuthy, who sews garments, said the factory was providing alcohol to sanitize their hands, checking their temperatures and has even given them masks to wear on the factory floor…

“We were told to wear a mask often and to not go anywhere there was no sanitation,” she said.

… The government has ordered the closure of private and public schools, cinemas, and public gatherings. In the last week, Vietnam and Thailand have also closed their land borders with Cambodia, though the transfer of goods is expected to continue.

But, the government has not ordered businesses to enforce work-from-home policies nor called for the closure of private enterprises…

The Better Factories Cambodia compliance report … showed that 30 percent of factories did not have adequate hand washing facilities and adequate soap. Additionally, Sixty-one percent did not have adequate accessible toilets.

… Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, said overcrowding in factories had the potential to exasperate the viral crisis, but that factory closures would result in heavy economic losses.

… However, when the Cambodian Confederation of Unions released a statement … raising concerns over worker safety during the pandemic, GMAC dismissed those concerns in their statement by saying factories had made worker safety a top priority…