Press Release: Domestic workers are, like other workers, entitled to decent work: Ms Von Kimsry, domestic worker

Friday, June 14, 2019

Embargoed until Sunday 16 June 2019, 00.01am

DOWNLOAD: Press Release in Khmer

Phnom Penh, 16 June 2019 – A domestic worker herself for over a decade, Ms Von Kimsry has been active in advocating better work conditions and access to social services for all domestic workers in Cambodia. Proud of her work, she has been helping other domestic workers understand their rights to decent work, the freedom of associations and participation in unions.

“I am good now but I need to help others who are in need of support as I did in the past,” said Kimsry, 38 years old, who has started her work journey as a domestic worker since her 18th birthday. She is now taking care of children in a private house in Phnom Penh.

As other women in the informal economy, domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to the risks of income insecurity and ill health due to discrimination, unsafe and insecurity working conditions, often low and volatile incomes with limited access to freedom of association.

Today, on the occasion of International Domestic Workers Day approximately 250 participants, including domestic workers, Kimsry among them, street vendors, and representatives of households’ employers, members of transport workers, as well as representatives from the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and development partners commemorate the domestic workers’ rights as they discuss in a public forum the situation of domestic workers and their challenges, while sharing information and experiences on social protection policies and practices.

Jointly organised by Oxfam, Solidary Centre and Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), the forum facilitates interactions among all parties involved in the sector in order to formulate suggestions toward further measures and solutions by relevant policy stakeholders.

“We celebrate International Domestic Workers Day every year to promote the rights to social protection of all domestic workers in Cambodia and to support our advocacy effort for increased recognition of the need to include them under social protection schemes like other workers,” says Ms Solinn Lim, Country Director of Oxfam in Cambodia. “Investing in care services for women as well as social protection for domestic workers would mean that Cambodia invests in their potentials to advance Cambodia’s economy and to achieve its ambition of being a high middle income country,” she added.

According to ILO’s research in 2018, there are approximately 240,000 domestic workers in Cambodia. Their incomes contribute an important economic proportion to Cambodian households’ revenues therefore playing a part in poverty eradication.

“Domestic workers’ incomes help improve their own economic situation and that of their families, prepare families members in coping with risks or eventual economic shocks, and gradually help them step out of poverty,” Ms LIM said. “But without having equal access to needed adequate social protection services, these workers, women in particular, will run the risk of being trapped in great poverty,” she added.

Mr Von Pov, President of IDEA, says that since 2005 his association has been encouraging positive changes in labour conditions, including those of domestic workers, as well as incorporating them under union law. “Currently, IDEA is coordinating a Cambodian Domestic Workers Network which consists of 20 domestic workers groups to initiate appropriate dialogues with relevant government agencies and households’ employers for greater recognition of their rights and therefore gaining access to social protection and decent living conditions,” he added.

Domestic employments are of equal value as other types of labours and therefore deserve equal access rights to social protection system and services, freedom of association, so that they too can enjoy the same benefits as other workers do in Cambodia, not leaving them behind.

Oxfam urges the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to ratify the ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers’ rights to decent work and take necessary steps to support national implementation if the RGC is to realise its Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goals and its ambition to become an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

Notes to editors: 

ILO Convention 189

In June 2011 today, Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization adopted the Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers, which is also referred to as the Domestic Workers Convention. This Convention recognises domestic work is work, and domestic workers are entitled to decent work.

What is domestic work?

It is defined as “work performed in or for a household or households”. This work may include tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking, washing and ironing clothes, taking care of children, or elderly or sick members of a family, gardening, guarding the house, driving for the family, even taking care of household pets.

About Oxfam

Oxfam has been supporting Cambodia’s development since 1979, making it the first INGO operating inside Cambodia during the controversial post-Khmer Rouge genocide period. Oxfam in Cambodia works in a wide range of programs advocating for women Economic Empowerment, Livelihoods for vulnerable groups, Natural Resource Governance, Climate Change Resilience and Sustainable Energy, Financial Inclusion, Social Protection and Decent works, Sustainable and Climate Resilient Agriculture, Disaster Preparedness and Humanitarian Relief, Civic Engagement and Financing for Development. https://cambodia.oxfam.org/who-we-are

About IDEA

Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA): it was established in May 2005 to act as an informal workers association to protect and promote the rights and interests of marginalised informal workers in Cambodia. IDEA is the first workers’ association actively working with approximately 14,000 tuk-tuk drivers, taxi drivers, street vendors, cart pullers, and domestic workers from Phnom Penh and five provinces. Its mission is to improve working conditions, livelihoods, and awareness of thousands of informal workers in Cambodia. http://www.ideacambodia.org

Contact information: 

Ms. Naratevy Kek
Communications Coordinator, Oxfam
Tel: 023885412 /E: Naratevy.Kek@oxfam.org