Another Crowded Holiday List Alarms Businesses

The government released a list of 25 public holidays for the 2009 calendar year, renewing the debate over tradition versus labor productivity.

The 25 holidays spread from International New Year’s Day on Jan 1 to International Human Rights Day on Dec 10, and the month of May alone counts six days off, according to a government sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Oct 20.

“For my factory, which has 2,000 workers, I lose about $6,000 to $7,000 per day during public holidays,” said Kong Sang, deputy chairman of the Garment Manu­facturers Association in Cambodia and owner of Evergreen Apparel Co Ltd.

Holidays lower production and complicate business because banks close, Kong Sang said. Cam­bodia has many more holidays than other countries, and they are clustered in the spring and fall, when garment factories receive most of their international orders, he added.

GMAC raised the issue with the government but did not receive a satisfactory answer, he said.

International investors are shock­ed by the number of public holidays when they arrive here, but they make do with Cambodia’s calendar, said David Symansky, re­cruiting manager at HR Inc, who handles human resources for companies trying to establish themselves in Cambodia.

“I’ve never seen anyone go runn­ing for the border once they realize they have to give their workers some time off,” Symansky said, ad­d­ing that Cambodians still have less time off than some European workers.

Ministry of Labor Secretary of State Oum Mean said only that his ministry would apply the government sub-decree before declining to comment further.


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