Report: Most Workers Part of Informal Economy

Cambodia’s informal economy em­ploys around 85 percent of the workforce, producing 62 percent of the country’s GDP, according to an Economic Institute of Cambodia re­port released on Monday.

A majority of those workers are women, the report found. They typically perform home-based work such as sewing or selling goods on the street or in markets, but the category also includes sex workers and beer promotion girls.

Informal jobs are typically unreg­u­­lated and without contracts, leaving women especially susceptible to the problems of unsteady em­ploy­ment, low wages, high risks, no ben­efits or protections and poor work­ing conditions, the report found.

The report was presented at a work­shop run by the UN Devel­op­ment Program, UN Development Fund for Women and the Inter­national Labor Organization.

At the workshop, a representative of the Ministry of Labor said the ministry would review labor laws in order to find ways to better serve these informal workers by providing more job security and health care.

“They have faced many problems…that affect their incomes,” said Prak Chantha, secretary of state at the ministry. “They don’t have social protection, security in the workplace or health [care].”

The study also found workers, especially women, lack the training and finances to break into the formal economy.

Touch Poeung, 45, who has been selling baguettes from a cart on Street 63 for the past 10 years, said she had no skills that would help her find formal work at an es­tablished company.

With four children to support and care for, she said she needed the flexibility self-employment could provide.

“The family depends on my business,” she said, adding that she works seven days per week, and about 11 hours per day.

On a good day, she earns $3, on a bad day, nothing.

Her husband, a motorbike taxi driver, only brings home $1 or $2 per day, making her the main bread­­winner.

She said a streak of bad business or serious illness in the family could mean hardship, as even state-run hospitals require unofficial fees.

“It’s hard that we can’t rely on the government for help,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Samantha Melamed)

 

 

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