PETALING JAYA: Eight Cambodian domestic workers, allegedly forced to work under gruelling conditions in Malaysia, were repatriated home yesterday, Khmer Times reported.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Chum Sounry said the Cambodian consul-general in Malaysia yesterday helped repatriate the women.
He said the Cambodian embassy in Kuala Lumpur intervened to help the eight women who had disputes with their employers and were subject to laborious work conditions.
Khmer Times reported that all the employers were made to pay the domestic workers their outstanding salaries before they were brought back to Cambodia.
The women were from Kratie, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces, the newspaper said.
It said incidents of abuse and overwork were common for Cambodian domestic workers going to Malaysia and “many had recounted instances of 18-hour work days for seven days a week, months at a time without respite”.
The newspaper said these domestic workers were often also not paid on a monthly basis and had their passports confiscated by employers to restrict their freedom of movement and stop them from running away.
In 2011, Cambodia banned sending of domestic workers to Malaysia after reports of severe abuse, and even several cases resulting in death, from the country.
The ban was lifted four years later after both nations signed a memorandum of understanding.
The 2015 MoU between Cambodia and Malaysia stipulates that domestic workers be paid a fair wage, given days off and provided decent accommodation, but the MoU is not legally binding on Malaysian employers.
Khmer Times said figures from the Cambodian foreign affairs ministry showed 272 migrant workers in Malaysia were repatriated in 2016, four times more than the 58 in 2015. In 2014, only 34 were sent back to Cambodia.
The main reasons for the repatriations, the ministry said, were human trafficking, overwork and abuse.