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Cambodia: Newly established union ensures social security for palm oil workers

Transforming Labour Conditions at Cerrejón

Me Rom, 40 years old, is a union activist at the Mong Rethy Palm Oil Company where she has been working for ten years. “I was very happy when I got the health insurance card. I was ill and have needed medicine twice since last February. The insurance helps me a lot. It has really saved me. In the past, when I had to go to the hospital, I didn’t have enough money to pay them.


It all began when CNV Internationaal’s partner trade unions, CLC and CAWF,  learned about the dire situation faced by over 2,000 workers at the Mong Rethy Company in the Prey Nup District of Preah Sihanouk Province. Thanks to the trade union, palm oil workers in the Mong Rethy Company now have access to social security and health care, alleviating financial burdens and providing peace of mind. Me talks about the journey towards this change.

“As workers, we were not aware of our rights in the past. Lacking access to social protection, we faced health risks and financial insecurity. It all began to change when we came in contact with the people from the trade union and told them about our dire situation. They helped us and in 2021 we were able to establish a union for our palm oil plantation and I’m an active member of this union now.”

What steps have been taken?

“It started with training workers about labour rights and organising local trade unions on various palm oil plantations. We also started a social dialogue with the company. This led to the Mong Rethy Company agreeing to register workers in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in April 2023. 215 NSSF cards have since been provided to union members.”

What are the future plans regarding social protection for plantation workers?

The union is working with the Mong Rethy Company to ensure that all workers are registered with the NSSF by 2024. 


“I hope the union leaders can speed up the process of applying for the NSSF card", says Me Rom. 


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Publication date 28 05 2024