Cambodia’s “Killer Commute”

October 4, 2014


It’s 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, and the women of the Generation shoe factory are finally free. After a long day at work, they are happy to cast off the drudgery of the assembly line and finally do as they please.

But soon, after this brief respite, they will gather their purchases and set off for what is by far the most dangerous part of their working day: the drive home.

Although oppressive conditions in Cambodian factories have become a major issue here over the past few years – with dozens of unions fighting to raise the meagre minimum wage in the face of long hours, forced overtime and bare-bones safety standards – the daily commute is still the most dangerous part of working in a Cambodian garment factory.

To get to and from work, much of the industry’s largely female workforce must pack themselves shoulder-to-shoulder into flatbed trucks, where they stand and cling to overhead poles or even ropes for balance while being driven long distances across the countryside by untrained drivers.

Even in the safest cars, Cambodia’s fledgling highway system is a dangerous place. As in many developing countries, the quality of the roads here has improved dramatically over the past decade. But driving skills, law enforcement, and vehicle inspection are still dismal.

Source: Aljazeera, 4 October, 2014.

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