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Cambodia commits to ensuring decent work for migrants in the fishing and seafood processing industry

03/09/2021 - 04:49
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With support from the European Union, the ILO and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training launched the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programmme with key stakeholders in Cambodia and agreed upon a work plan of activities.

 

The Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programme held its first national consultative dialogue in Cambodia on 2 September 2021 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Key stakeholders from the government, employers, workers and civil society organizations met to discuss the new programme and expressed their strong commitment to work together to promote safe and regular labour migration into decent work in the fishing and seafood processing sectors in Cambodia and in South East Asia in general.

His Excellency Hou Vudthy, Secretary of State, MoLVT,  representing H.E. Ith Samheang, Minister, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), said that “The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training welcomes the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programme to be implemented from now until 2024, in order to promote the rights of migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sector in the Southeast Asia region, with technical support from the ILO, UNDP and IOM and funding from the EU. In order to be able to implement this new regional Programme, this consultative workshop will have to (1) reassess the rights of migrant workers and the role of relevant stakeholders in Cambodia  in protecting and promoting the rights of migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sector; most of them are now abroad, especially in Thailand and (2) to identify priority actions for medium and long- term intervention in protecting and promoting the rights of migrant workers in the sectors by looking for best practices and identifying lead and responsible actors for cooperation and (3) establish a National Programme Advisory Committee with key stakeholders to provide governance and direction for this new programme and ensure it achieves its objectives successfully.”

During his opening remarks, Mr. Bryan Fornari, Head of Cooperation for the European Union Delegation in Cambodia, said that, “This regional programme addresses the critical challenges experienced by women and men migrant workers in Cambodia, who need even more protection amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Ensuring safe and regular migration requires a coordinated regional approach, which the EU will continue to promote in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, the UN and other development partners.”

Benjamin Harkins, ILO Technical Officer for Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia, said in his closing speech that “The ILO welcomes the commitments made by key stakeholders to expand labour protection for Cambodian migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sectors. We recognize that these are very important sectors of employment for migrant workers and that far too many experience severe labour rights abuses during their recruitment and employment. We are very pleased to reach agreement on a strong work plan of activities that will directly respond to the labour protection needs of these workers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severely negative effect on the livelihoods of Cambodia’s migrant workers. Large-scale returns, coupled with loss of employment and income in key destination countries, have reduced the amount of remittances sent home to Cambodia. These transfers are critical to supporting the financial resilience of migrant households, particularly for women living in rural areas of the country.

The Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programme has already begun to respond to the urgent needs of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, particularly in the fishing and seafood processing sectors. Having provided funding for emergency relief to over 2,300 migrant workers during previous outbreaks, the programme is currently in discussion with local NGOs to provide additional assistance to mitigate loss of livelihoods and address labour rights violations faced by migrant workers during the pandemic. In addition, plans are underway to support returning migrants through Migrant Worker Resource Centers so that they can safely arrive home and are able to pursue new livelihood opportunities.

Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia Programme is a multi-country, multi-annual initiative of the European Union and the United Nations, implemented by the International Labour Organization in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Development Programme.

The programme delivers technical assistance and support with the overall objective of promoting safe and regular labour migration among South East Asian countries. The programme addresses the specific characteristics of work in the fishing and seafood processing sectors as well as the barriers and risks present in the migration system, which can lead to unsafe migration, decent work deficits, abuse and trafficking for forced labour.

More information on Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia can be found at: www.shiptoshorerights.org

 

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