The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is encouraging Cambodians to apply for work overseas with seven locally based recruitment companies, according to a statement released Sunday.
The ministry has granted licenses to all seven companies, allowing them to seek Cambodians for other firms abroad, the statement said.
The list includes four companies looking for workers to go to Malaysia, Philimore Cambodia Co Ltd, Cambodia Labor Supply Ptd Ltd, Human Resources Development Co Ltd and Million Manpower Center Co Ltd; two companies recruiting workers for South Korea, NH Manpower Cambodia Ltd and International Manpower Cambodia Co Ltd; and Cambodia Labor Supply Ptd Ltd, which is looking for workers to go to Brunei.
But, the statement warned: “The ministry has observed that there are some cheaters who trick the workers to work abroad illegally and those workers are seriously abused in miserable” conditions.
The warning comes after a 14-member delegation from local NGOs and the ministry visited Malaysia earlier this month to examine working conditions of Cambodian laborers there.
According to Sang Sok Phang, an assistant director of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center who participated in the delegation, the group discovered some Cambodian laborers there have been forced to work up to 10 hours a day and were not allowed to hold onto their own passports. “Workers in Malaysia are being abused. Those workers are forced to overwork and don’t have time to rest,” Sang Sok Phang said Sunday.
The CWCC will send a lawyer later this month to further evaluate the working conditions in Malaysia, said CWCC director Chanthal Oung.
Though the seven companies on the list are required by the ministry to find acceptable working conditions, Seng Sakda, director of the Ministry’s Employment and Manpower Department, said that if the ministry discovers a company abuses its workers, it will revoke the company’s license.
The director of Human Resources Development Co Ltd, one of the seven companies approved by the ministry to recruit Cambodian staff, however, said most companies in Malaysia adhere to strict labor guidelines.
But those Cambodians hired to work in private homes could be more likely to run into problems, company director Othsman Hassan said.
In March, 450 Cambodian laborers were selected out of more than 1,000 applicants to work in South Korean factories.
In 2001, more than 1,200 Cambodian laborers applied through a local firm to work in Greece on construction projects in preparation for this year’s Summer Olympics in Athens.
The jobs and the journey to Greece never materialized. Applicants said they were cheated out of their $500 deposits, which they had handed over to the local company, Cambodia Consultant Association, for the right to work on the projects.