Cambodia, Social Justice
Laborers’ Plight - Cambodia: Stories of the Ordinary Labor 2020
The industrialization and commercialization in Cambodia are rapidly increasing, leading to the rising labor force. The nation has the highest labor force participation rate in Southeast Asia/Pacific region, with 82.7% of the working population aged 16-64 employed or seeking employment. Each year, Cambodia adds an average of 164,000 people to its labor force. Yet labor protection and justice system are still remaining insufficient and most often neglected. Worse, this year's Corona pandemic even aggravate the financial struggle and social injustices facing most of the Cambodian labor.
In our collaborative program with Cambodian Center for Independent Media, we illustrate incidents and problems encountered by the workers, by having them speak up for their own. The authority and employers are also interviewed for their sides of the stories, and their responses accordingly.
Garbage collectors, fishers, banana pickers, unionists, hostesses — amid a tumultuous year for the economy, a broad swath of Cambodian laborers has faced severe challenges in their work.
There are unique circumstances among them: A laundry shop in Phnom Penh is run by disabled workers, and must cope with discrimination; medical waste collectors tiptoe around broken syringes in sandals on a regular basis; and banana plantation workers, many of them fleeing joblessness and food insecurity, fear the drones spraying chemicals overhead every day and the illnesses spreading through the community.
As battered industries have shed tens of thousands of jobs amid a global pandemic, over several months workers told VOD of the struggle to survive and the solidarity with which they face their problems together.
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