The efforts of Cambodia’s home workers to improve their safety and health will come under international scrutiny this week.
Experts from the International Labour Organization (ILO) will be in Phnom Penh from 27-29th October to review the progress of the occupational safety and health trainers who graduated from the ILO’s WISH (Work Improvement for Safe Home) training programme in August.
The four-day August workshop marked the introduction of the WISH programme to Cambodia , following its successful implementation in Thailand over the last five years.
The 34 trainers who completed the course came from throughout Cambodia and included representatives from trade unions’, employers’, membership-based associations, non-governmental organizations, and the government. Having qualified in WISH their mandate was to take their new skills and spread them among home workers in their areas, under a train-the-trainers system.
The follow-up process will be led by Dr Tsuyoshi Kawakami, the ILO’s specialist in Occupational Safety and Health for East Asia, who also led the WISH training. His programme will include on-site visits to home workers in Phnom Penh.
The home working sector in Cambodia is growing, but this often invisible workforce goes largely unrecognized in labour statistics and is unprotected by labour legislation. Most home workers are women and although they work in the familiarity of their own homes they face many hazards. These include exposure to chemicals, unsafe use of machinery, poor lighting, electrical and fire risks, long hours and cramped or strenuous working positions. These factors can affect the health of the workers and their children and families, and compromise their income and productivity.
The ILO estimates that the average monthly earnings of home workers are between US$25 and US$100. Most work in small-scale manufacturing, such as clothes-making, weaving, handicrafts, jewelry and silverware. Male home workers are usually carpenters or craftsmen.
The WISH training and follow-up process are part of an ILO project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) aimed at improving conditions of informal economy workers