16 Days: Cambodian workers in 10 factories join call vs. gender-based violence

Cambodian workers employed at 10 brick kiln factories in the country joined BWI’s 16 Days of Trade Union Activism on Violence against Women (VAW). Led by the Building and Wood Worker Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC), the workers held different activities at the Ta Nang, Khun Tour, Ta Koy, Tbong Pich, Punle Pras Athit, Pun Leu Angkor, Dem Pour, Kim Tay, Teng Narith and Yu Kim factories in the province of Kandal. 

BWTUC said that participating in the campaign is a learning experience for them. Union leaders said that they realised that there is a need to do more in educating their members on gender-based violence and harassment at homes and workplaces, as well as needed social protection measures to help them cope with the new realities introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 “There is an urgency to educate our members, especially women. This is important as we plan to push for the expansion of the coverage of the country’s National Social Security Fund to include women in the informal economy, such as the brick kiln sector,” BWTUC Vice President Chhlonh Sou said. 

Sou said that BWTUC has formed alliances with different civil society organizations in Cambodia along BWI’s campaign lines on gender empowerment and equality to respond to the alarming rise of violence and discrimination against women in the time of COVID-19 and popularise the need for their government to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 on the Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. 

on 9 December, BWTUC, together with other trade unions and CSOs, released a joint statement requesting urgent government intervention on seven key issues that would increase social protection for workers.  Signatories to the statement are the: Cambodian Food and Service Workers (CFSWF), Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central), Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Klahaan Organization (Klahaan) and ActionAid-Cambodia. 

Their statement demanded the following from the Cambodian government: 

  1. Provide an allowance of USD 40 to all workers who have lost their jobs.

  2. Facilitate social registration for the immediate issue of health equity cards to workers in the informal economy and small-holder farmers. This includes ensuring that pregnant women workers have access to free healthcare services and financial support.

  3. Take concrete actions to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment and gender-based violence and discrimination in the world of work and to take concrete steps to ratify the ILO Convention 190.

  4. Strictly enforce laws to eliminate intimate partner violence and provide responsive services that focus on the physical and mental well-being of survivors.

  5. Protect farmers’ land rights by taking immediate actions to resolve long-term and chronic land disputes, and to put and end to the use of the court system to pressure farmers to stop their land right protests.

  6. Include farmer groups in the coverage of the country’s law on social protection.

  7. Compel private companies and suppliers to provide each worker an emergency subsidy amounting to USD 76 per month on top of the government’s USD 40 per month allowance.