A total of 206 factories have now been temporarily closed due to the ongoing Covid-19 community outbreak, with 1,673 workers known to have contracted the virus and over 17,000 additional workers currently isolated in quarantine, according to Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesperson Heng Sour.
At a press conference held on April 28 regarding the lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province, Sour said 134 out of the 206 factories are based in Phnom Penh, with another 23 in Kandal province, 26 in Takeo, 16 in Preah Sihanouk, four in Svay Rieng, and a few more in Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham.
He said nearly 1,600 out of the 1,673 Covid-19 positive workers are from factories in Phnom Penh, and as a result approximately 17,000 of their co-workers must now undergo quarantine.
“The numbers may increase from there because we are now testing the workers in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district. We are just trying to get the situation back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.
Sour reiterated that workers in the locked down areas of Phnom Penh and Takmao will receive 50 per cent of their monthly pay in April. The ministry is working with the owners and managers of the factories in the yellow zones of the locked down areas to get them reopened as soon as possible.
“Given recent events, we’re all having a lot of difficulties. Employers and employees have to try and understand each other’s situations. The ministry will issue travel permits to workers to enable them to go to their workplaces,” he said.
Sour said the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao had affected 7,000 workplaces, including 690 factories and over 1.2 million workers.
He said that after Phnom Penh and Takmao were divided into red, yellow and dark yellow zones, some 60 factories with nearly 200,000 workers in yellow zones can resume their operations.
Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thon said workers should receive full monthly payments because that is what is stated in the labour law. Furthermore, he said that workers should receive it immediately in order to pay for their daily necessities, and that it should not be delayed until the lockdown is lifted.
“The government should issue lockdown orders that include provisions for enough food for daily sustenance, medical treatments, quarantines, vaccinations and requirements for factories to maintain hygiene measures,” he said.
Thon also praised the government for providing the support to workers during the crisis, but he urged the government to do more for the workers who are currently under lockdown.