The Labor Ministry on Thursday launched a new three-year policy for improving the lot of Cambodia’s more than 700,000 migrant workers that includes plans to step up monitoring of the country’s often-abusive recruitment agencies and add labor attachés to more embassies.
Released to coincide with International Migration Day, the Labor Migration Policy for Cambodia 2015-2018 updates the five-year plan launched in 2010.
Nilim Baruah, a senior migration specialist for the International Labor Organization (ILO), which helped draft both policies, said the new plan largely focuses the government’s attention on putting into practice the rules and regulations drawn up as a result of the first strategy.
“There is more emphasis in this one on implementation,” he said.
Nearly 700,000 Cambodians work in Thailand, attracted by the country’s higher wages. Tens of thousands more work in other countries including South Korea and Malaysia, together sending home millions of dollars a year in remittances, a vital source of income for some of Cambodia’s poorest families.
But only about one in 10 Cambodian migrant laborers leave via legal channels, according to the ILO, leaving many exposed to exploitative and abusive work conditions. Many of Cambodia’s own private recruitment agencies charge exorbitant fees, detain trainees before they leave and place them in dangerous conditions abroad with little to no support.