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Guidelines issued for reopened factories

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Garment workers leave from a factory at Chak Angre commune in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district on March 15, 2021. Heng Chivoan

Guidelines issued for reopened factories

The Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a set of procedures to be applied for reopening factories after the lockdown is lifted at the onset of May 6.

The committee has decided that all of the workers in each factory will work just two weeks per month, with 50 per cent of the workforce working the first two weeks each month while the other 50 per cent working the following two weeks in an alternating schedule.

However, factories with 80 per cent of their workers vaccinated – even with their first dose – will not be forced to run at half-capacity, but are expected to maintain Covid-19 preventive measures.

This decision was made at a video conference meeting attended by 28 LAC members on May 4, according to a statement released by the labour ministry.

It said the ministry had proposed to the government suggesting temporal conditions in reopening the factories where workers had contracted Covid-19.

“When the factories and enterprises reopen after the lockdown, they have to comply with this ruling by only permitting 50 per cent of the total workforce to work at once and the other 50 per cent to work the other two weeks,” the statement said.

The first two weeks of the month are prioritised for workers who have been vaccinated, either the first or second dose. However, they must not be among the residents of high-risk areas whose samples must be taken for testing.

Priority is also given to those who already have had their specimens taken for testing as certified by medical workers or the ministry’s medical staff. Corresponding to the amount of work being done, the employers have to pay 50 per cent of the minimum wage.

The factories and enterprises must provide each worker with a face mask during their shift and be equipped with gel sanitisers. Workers must have their temperatures checked before work and good ventilation systems must be installed. Factories must have Covid-19 test kits on hand sufficient to test at least 10 per cent of the total workforce present.

The factories must also take samples from workers for testing if their workplace location is changed from one building to another within the same factory.

Staff who have contact with outsiders such as those in the food services department, security guards, cleaners and those who are in charge of taking the samples and temperature checks must also be tested.

The ministry requested the government provide food relief to the factory workers whose work is suspended or those who are undergoing treatment or quarantine.

The labour ministry stressed that workers living in red zones in the capital or provinces cannot go to work.

Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, told The Post on May 5 that he was concerned about the factories reopening when the transmission rate remained high.

“I am concerned and I urge the ministry, factories and enterprises in Phnom Penh and adjancent Takmao town [in Kandal province] to reconsider whether to reopen in order to avoid transmission among workers,” he said.

LAC urged the government to provide vaccines to factory workers, tuk-tuk drivers, tenants living nearby factories, vendors near the factories and the staff at restaurants, resorts and hotels.

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