Analysis: Microfinance Lenders Take Advantage of Cambodian Garment Workers During COVID
After weeks without pay, it was debt that drove Cambodian garment worker Eang Malea back to her factory when it reopened this month, eclipsing her heightened fear of falling ill amid a surge of Covid-19 cases on factory floors.
The 850,000 people who work in Cambodia’s $7bn garment industry have been prioritised for Covid-19 vaccines, but Malea has not yet secured hers and promises of debt relief amid strict lockdowns have not materialised, she said.
“I need to pay rent, utilities and debts,” Malea told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I worry that I will get infected by going to work without being vaccinated, but I don’t really have a choice.”
Cambodia shut clothing factories and put some worker communities under strict lockdowns in mid-April as hundreds of new coronavirus cases were detected each day, with infections at more than 100 factories.
Photo courtesy of ILO Asia-Pacific.