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20 May 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Union leaders and workers express concerns over an increase in number of workers tested positive for COVID-19 in more provinces

"Union leaders sound alarm as COVID-19 spreads among provincial garment workers", 20 May 2021

…, at least 80 garment workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in just a handful of provinces outside Phnom Penh, sparking worries from laborers, union leaders and civil society figures that measures to reopen factories are insufficient…

Union leaders and civil society groups say the ongoing spread of the virus among garment workers is due to insufficient closures of factories, which are largely permitted by officials to stay open with limited closures of impacted sections. Meanwhile, provincial authorities say the most dangerous point for viral transmissions isn’t in factories themselves but rather on the tightly packed truck transports for workers, a means of commuting flagged as unsafe even without the risk of COVID-19…

“There are thoroughly preventive measures inside the factory, but we are concerned they are riding vehicles [trucks] together to the workplace,” he said.

A 29-year-old garment worker who declined to be named due to fear of retribution by factory management told … she is very worried the factory is still in operation after the discovery of COVID-19 among staff…

She urged the factory owner to temporarily close in order to prevent the virus from infecting other workers.

… Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance Trade Union, told … she was concerned the virus would continue to spread among other workers without stricter measures to temporarily close the factory.

“[Workers] are still afraid of infection even with a break in some sections because workers ride trucks together to the same workplace, [and have] lunch time where they sit closely together,” she said…