Street vendors call for social protection – Community News
Social Security

Street vendors call for social protection

As the world celebrated International Street Vendors Day yesterday, a network of Cambodian street vendors is being promoted by the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA).

IDEA President Vorn Pov said: “Street vendors in Cambodia face a number of challenges, including insecurity, poor sanitation, lack of social protection and all forms of harassment and discrimination. Yet street vendors are not recognized or registered in the national social security system.”

“The blow of the global Covid-19 pandemic has added another layer to their existing hardships, making them more vulnerable and exposed to more risks and uncertainties,” he said.

Nit SreyNang, who sells snacks near Tuol Tompoung Market in Phnom Penh, said: “Before Covid-19 I could earn $20 a day, but now I can only earn $15 a day.”

“People don’t buy drinks and snacks like they used to. The street is quieter than it used to be,” she says. “I can’t earn much to support my family. If someone in my family gets sick, we don’t have the National Social Security Office to support us and we have to pay expensive hospital costs.”

Phan Rinda, a street vendor, said: “I can’t do good business every day like before, but the tax officials keep coming to collect fees even though they know I have no customers and business is bad now.”

“If possible, the government can talk to the bank owners to extend our loan payments and lower interest rates,” Rinda said.

Street vendor Pov Chandary, a former factory worker whose husband is a tuk-tuk driver, have both been members of IDEA for three years.

Based on her experience working in a social protection factory, she said she could see the differences and benefits that formal workers could get from the social security system, including health care, industrial accident compensation, maternity leave, retirement and compensatory benefits.

“I would be very happy to be a part of social protection, even if it means making a contribution,” Chandary said.

Oxfam Cambodia Director Sophoan Phean said: “Street vendors contribute significantly to the family economy and the national economy. They have the same rights as workers in other sectors, including access to social protection and welfare, including health insurance, maternity protection, childcare, education, hygiene and safety, and access to financial services that are critical to them, especially in the context of COVID-19.”

Labor Ministry Foreign Minister Som Aun said: “I know all the challenges street vendors face. The government will help and solve their problems and will not discriminate.”

  • Keywords: IDEA, International Day of Street Vendors