Coronavirus lockdown in Cambodia leaves tens of thousands of low-paid textile workers without income

After weeks without pay, it was debt that drove Cambodian garment worker Eang Malea back to her factory when it reopened this month, eclipsing her heightened fear of falling ill amid a surge of COVID-19 cases on factory floors.

The 850,000 people who work in Cambodia’s $7 billion garment industry have been prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines, but Malea has not yet secured hers and promises of debt relief amid strict lockdowns have not materialised, she said.

“I need to pay rent, utilities and debts,” Malea, 26, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I worry that I will get infected by going to work without being vaccinated, but I don’t really have a choice.”

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