A Cambodian government official said that in the first nine months of the year at least 110 garment factories had closed and left more than 55,000 employees without jobs, but union leaders fear that those figures maybe even higher. Ngoy Rith, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said that as of early September, 111 factories in the clothes, footwear and travel goods sectors had closed down. The number of closures was equivalent to the first nine months of last year when 110 factories were closed, he said. “These closures left 55,174 jobs unemployed. This lack of jobs improved somewhat from the same time last year which saw 53,226 laid-off employees, he added.
Rith said the government had been successful in enforcing steps to hold factories open in one of the Cambodian economy’s most significant sectors. He added that the Covid-19 pandemic and other causes had effectively shut down the global demand for garment goods. He said the number of suspended job contracts had steadily subsided, adding that the number of frozen work contract garment factories had declined to 52, impacting the incomes of nearly 14,000 employees.
But on November 22, Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, told that the real statistics may be higher than the estimates published by the Ministry of Labour and that more Cambodian employees every day were losing their employment and incomes. “These losses are very difficult to determine. Staff continues to struggle to make a living and some workers have moved abroad. But, he added, there is already a lot of staff who have no jobs. It’s troubling.
Even though Cambodia is under the General System of Preferences (GSP) program to encourage imports to the United Kingdom beginning in January, Saly said he was still not confident. The government introduced comprehensive steps in late September to handle the effects of the Covid-19 crisis and to boost the economy from October to December. The government has launched six rounds of stimulus initiatives costing around $1 billion after analyzing economic trends in the region and the world.The first aim of the initiatives was to stabilize and rebuild industries in order to help accelerate post-Covid-19 economic development. The second aim was by a cash hand-out scheme, to support the livelihoods of impoverished and disadvantaged families.