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More Than 60,000 Out of Factory Work

Factory woes in the wake of the global downturn have put 62,000 Cambodians out of work, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Thursday.

Zoellick was addressing an annual meeting between World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials in Turkey. Nearly 50 factories have closed since the downturn began more than a year ago, in Cambodia’s chief export earner, he said.

An estimated 400,000 people are employed by the garment sector, which brings in nearly $2 billion in revenue annually.

“Ninety percent of the 62,000 workers losing their jobs are women,” Zoellick said, offering the example of a worker named Aoy Puon.

“Since the crisis hit, her monthly salary has been cut in half,” he said. “Today she can’t make enough to send money home to her family, who depend on her income. Aoy Puon is now worried that she will lose her job.”

The World Bank figures differed from estimates of the Ministry of Labor, which said 33,000 workers had lost their jobs.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said 87 factories had closed and 65,000 workers had lost their job from 2007.

“We’re worried about closing the garment factories, workers losing jobs and the fall of the garment exports,” said Kaing Monika, business development manager for the Garment Manufacturer Association of Cambodia. “According to figures, we’ve seen a fall of garment exports of 30 percent. It is quite a lot, and we think that the concerned people must unite to promote the garment sector.”

Um Mean, secretary of state for the Ministry of Labor, said the government had policies “to promote the garment sector through the strength of good working conditions, production and work quality.”