Wages and work in Cambodia

Factory WorkersThis quote from the Phnom Penh post is exactly what I hear from so many Cambodian workers. 12 to 15 hours a day for $50 to $100 a month. With 1 day a month off. I don’t know how they do it.
“A woman who has been employed as a domestic worker in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork for the past three years, identifying herself only as Pheap, told the Post that her work hours are not kept track of and her day is only complete when all tasks are finished.”

“I never knew my rights as a domestic worker, because I cannot read and I am not aware of the laws associated with my job,” Pheap said. “I have to get up at 4am or 5am every day, and I work until midnight. I receive $80 per month, but sometimes I get a bonus from my boss when we have a major holiday such as New Year or Pchum Ben.”

There is a call for an 8 hour work day and $150 minimum wage per month with 2 days a week off. That would be radical here. Ironically if you have a government job, teacher, police, military and the like you don’t have to show up for very many hours a day and get lots of extended holidays. Very little pay, but you can take on other jobs. Which is why there is so much corruption here. The police are allowed to take the money for tickets and set the price, teachers charge for tests, grading the tests and cheat sheets. It is all part of the system. And somehow the economy is growing. Prostitution is high because it is one way to make some real money. Of course where there is real money there will be those that exploit others to make them work cheap and collect the profits for themselves. So the government employees control much of the brothel business. Unlike the stereotype we see in the tourist bar areas, most “massage” and “sex services” are for Khmer men and other Asians. Just take a trip to the airport on the toll road from Phnom Penh. It’s packed with Khmer men taking advantage of the cheap hostess bars and sex services and not a European face to be seen.

But I fear that very few Cambodians are benefiting from any of the businesses here. Siem Reap where the Angkor Wat is collecting hefty fees that could be put back into restoration is going to a mega corporation Sokamex which already has oil and gas and high end tourism income galour. It’s not hard to observe that there are a few Cambodians at the top driving their Hummers with body guards at the ready and most people barely making it. There is also lot of foreign money and investment in tourism and business that extracts labor, raw materials and tourist money leaves the country rather than being put back into it.
As you see when you get out of the tourist areas most people are still subsisting on farming and fishing or both.


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