Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Worker hunger rates high: ILO

Worker hunger rates high: ILO

A garment worker gives a blood sample during a health study earlier this year
A garment worker gives a blood sample during a health study earlier this year. A survey of garment workers in Cambodia suggests that up to 43 per cent could be anaemic. ANGKOR RESEARCH

Worker hunger rates high: ILO

Nearly half of Cambodia’s garment workers are anaemic, with 15 per cent considered underweight by international standards, according to data released yesterday on hunger in the industry.

The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) issued some baseline summary results for a study on garment workers’ health and productivity. The results shocked chief researcher Ian Ramage, research director for Angkor Research and Consulting Ltd, the analysis firm contracted for the survey.

“People just don’t have enough to eat, and that’s surprising to me for a population with a monthly salary,” Ramage said. “It is surprising and interesting and disturbing.”

The data, which show more than 43 per cent of garment workers in Cambodia are anaemic and 8 per cent “met the definition for severely food insecure”, were taken from a survey of almost 4,000 employees of 10 factories between May and June.

Ramage said the data taken from factories in Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces roughly match hunger rates in Cambodia as a whole, which is largely rural.

Such evidence calls for a two-pronged approach to deal with worker hunger, which has been cited as a factor in factory mass faintings, said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center.

Along with raised wages, Welsh said a memorandum of understanding regarding access to healthy food has been in the works. In addition, subsidised housing or rent control could prevent landlords from hiking prices when salaries rise, taking money away from food budgets.

However, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said yesterday that the sample study did not necessarily reflect the entire industry. Furthermore, he added, garment workers sometimes make purchases that call into question their desperate food situation.

“How can anyone claim that workers don’t earn enough to eat properly?” Loo asked. “Most of them have their own mobile phones.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four