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9 Apr 2020

Harrison White, Khmer Times

Cambodia: Oxfam claims that garment workers struggle to support their livelihoods as $70 per month package is not adequate while Covid-19 pandemic interrupts factory operations

"Oxfam: $70 a month factory pay could push workers back into poverty", 9 April 2020

The announcement by Prime Minister Hun Sen ... that suspended factory workers would only be receiving a total of $70 per month could potentially push hundreds of thousands of garment workers and their families back below the poverty line, according to Oxfam..

The $70 monthly payment, which equates to $2.33 a day for a normal 30-day calendar month, is 43 cents a day above the World Bank’s 2015 definition of absolute or extreme poverty (considered to be $2.16 a day now after adjusting for inflation).

Solinn Lim, Cambodia Country Director of Oxfam said that Cambodia has lifted a lot of people out of extreme poverty. However, the country now needs to careful that during these unprecedented times people could fall back into poverty. This is especially true of the informal economy sector.

“While Cambodia has been very successful in lifting people out of extreme poverty, this virus could make those that have escaped poverty at risk of falling back into it. We also have observed serious implications on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable groups we work with across the country…amid the potential impacts on marginalised groups these informal economy workers have also lost their jobs and income,” Solinn said.

... The government had previously agreed that suspended workers would be eligible for a 20 percent subsidy from the government and a 40 percent subsidy from factory owners. From the $190 minimum wage this would have equated to $114 a month or $3.80 a day, but this was changed due to factory owners stating an inability to pay...