Church helps Cambodian workers tackle harassment

The Catholic Church in Cambodia has been putting its weight behind an awareness campaign to protect factory workers from workplace harassment.

May 13, 2022

Workers attend a seminar in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh organised by the Catholic Church on International Labour Day. (UCA News Photo/Catholic Cambodia)


PHNOM PENH: The Catholic Church in Cambodia has been putting its weight behind an awareness campaign to protect factory workers from workplace harassment.

In the latest effort, the workers’ committee of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh organised a seminar for 30 workers in the capital, Phnom Penh, on International Labour Day, May 1, reported Catholic Cambodia, the communication wing of the local Church.

Mao Srey Keo, secretary of the committee and coordinator of the workers’ programme, said they brought workers together to understand more about workplace harassment and to train them to protect themselves and their co-workers from abusive treatment in factories.

He said the committee visits workers in factories every month to know about their grievances and to overcome challenges in their personal and work lives.

Keynote speaker Neou Sovatha, an official from Care Cambodia, an international anti-poverty development group, advised workers to be aware of their legal rights, to fight harassment.

Cambodia has a national labour law covering employment contracts, wages, benefits and non-discrimination, according to the International Labour Organisation.

However, the Borgen Project, a global group battling poverty and hunger, noted that, despite the law, industrial workers, especially garment labourers, face routine harassment and abuses, as well as job insecurity due to fixed-term contracts, gender discrimination, a high-pressure work environment, violations of child labour laws and the government’s busting of labour unions.

Workers who attended the May Day programme found it useful.

Ou On, 41, a worker from the Guangdong garment factory, said she learned how to deal with harassment such as sexual abuse in the workplace.

“I will encourage my colleagues and tell them: Do not be afraid, we have to struggle. We must dare to solve our problems together,” she said.

Seng Sarith, a 28-year-old electrician, said: “I think such a programme helps a lot of workers. This programme is a first step towards changing our mindset about our rights as workers.”

Mao said the programme will continue with meetings at least twice a month, camps and seminars. -- ucanews.com

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