Undocumented migrant workers miserable, but better off.

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Undocumented migrant workers miserable, but better off.

Post by CEOCambodiaNews » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:46 am

Despite difficult work and living conditions, and often years' long separation from family, many undocumented Cambodian workers are doing better in low paid jobs in Malaysia than they would be if they had remained working in the kingdom.

Excerpt from article on migrant workers in Malaysia:

Violence, prejudice, low pay: all in a day's work for migrants in Malaysia

[...] Others, like Srey Uon from Cambodia, never had legal status in the first place. Uon, 32, works for 15 hours a day binding bunches of herbs in a bustling hypermarket in Kuala Lumpur. It is tedious work, but the 1,200 ringgit (£220) she earns each month is more than she could hope to make in Cambodia. Like an estimated 70% of Cambodian migrant workers in the country, Uon crossed into Malaysia illegally with the help of smugglers.

“I worry a lot here, especially when I go outside,” she says. “It’s not comfortable … but I have no choice because I have to support my family.”

Uon came to Malaysia with her husband, but she had to leave her two young children behind with her parents. That was two years ago and, because it costs so much to return to Cambodia, she is unlikely to see them for another three years. “I really miss my children. It’s so difficult. But I can’t afford to visit them.”

Working alongside her, My Som, 44, chose to bring her seven-year-old twins with her after her husband died in Cambodia, but she barely sees them. “I work from 8am to 11pm every day. I get two days off each month,” Som says. “Even if I’m sick I have to come to work. If not, they will threaten you because you are undocumented.” Som has to spend a third of her monthly income on childcare because government schools in Malaysia generally don’t admit the children of undocumented workers.

Migrants, especially those who are undocumented, are also afraid of the police, whom one worker described as “robbers in a uniform”.

As soon as Vani, an undocumented worker from Cambodia, sat down at an outdoor cafe, his body tensed. He had spotted a police officer he recognised driving by on a motorbike. “I’m very nervous when I see the police,” he says. “You have to walk slowly and not show that you are afraid.” He has been picked up four times by the police, and each time has had to pay them off with a hefty “fine”.

The first time, he tried to talk his way out of it but, he says, the police beat him up and he had to hand over 700 ringgit, almost a month’s wages. “Now when they catch me I don’t talk,” says Vani. “I just ask them how much they want.”

Vani and millions of other migrant workers are caught up in a system that is arbitrary and indifferent, says Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, coordinator of the Migration Working Group Malaysia. “The informal sector is thriving; locals don’t want to do this work and the cost of recruiting documented workers is unaffordable to some employers,” explains Kishna.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-deve ... ysia#img-1
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