NGOs renew call on gender-based violence at work in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - To resolve 11 concerns  regarding gender-based violence at work and the protection of workers’ fundamental freedoms and rights, the NGOs renewed their call to the government.

NGOs renewed their call to the government to resolve 11 concerns
regarding gender-based violence at work and the protection of workers’
fundamental freedoms and rights.

In a joint statement released on Sunday, 21 local civil society
organisations called on various government ministries and institutions
to act in response to women’s needs. The call was a part of the 16-day Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

The NGOs said they had already petitioned the government twice
– during International Women’s Day in March and International Labour
Day in May – but the issues have remained unresolved.

Among the 11 points raised are the inclusion of nurseries in the
workplace and community-based kindergarten facilities in every commune; a
one-stop service centre for victims of domestic violence;
implementation of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO)
Convention on Violence and Harassment at work; reforming the modes of
transportation for workers in the textile, garment and footwear sectors;
and having a minimum wage-setting mechanism to protect domestic
workers.

“There have been several cases where local authorities have
intervened only to encourage women to understand, tolerate and give
another chance to the perpetrators, thus requiring women to change their
attitude to avoid conflict, rather than bring the perpetrators to
justice,” the NGOs statement said.

They also called for the government to provide social protection for
street vendors; strengthen protection mechanisms for migrant workers;
set a minimum wage and gratuities for workers in the tourism and
construction sectors; strengthen the implementation of the law in
relation to land disputes; and increase the respect, protection and
promotion of trade union rights through amendments to the Law on Trade
Unions.

The statement said that there were currently no mechanisms or systems
for supervising the working conditions or health and safety of migrant
workers, and there was no provision of social protection to domestic
workers overseas.

“House owners deprive women domestic migrant workers of their right
under the law to hold identification documents such as passports, as
well as their right to communicate with people over the phone,” the
statement said.

The president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation,
Ou Tep Phallin, said on Monday that the petitions submitted by the NGOs
have not been acted upon.

“There have been discussions about the Law on Trade Unions. But the
comments from the unions had not been considered when making the
amendments. So we see no positive response to all the problems that were
raised,” she said.

She said the 11-point petition listed priority issues that should be
dealt with to improve the country’s development and ensure that people
live in comfort, and have security and safety.

The workforce, consisting of factory workers, street vendors,
domestic workers, informal workers and farmers, are the veins of the
country’s economy, she said.

“Development should also address investment in human capital. If
workers feel comfortable and safe at work and are paid and protected
then this will translate to effective economic development,” Tep Phallin
said.

Several spokespersons for government institutions mentioned in the statement could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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