PHNOM PENH, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 93 garment and shoe factories were closed in the first 11 months of 2009 at the cost of 38,190 jobs, local media reported on Tuesday, citing the figures released by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
A further 60 factories temporarily suspended operations, affecting 35,337 more jobs, but 55 new factories were also opened, creating 15,173 new positions, the Phnom Penh Post quoted the figures as saying, which were released at the fourth National Conference on Industrial Relations.
Labour Ministry Secretary of State Oum Mean was quoted as saying that the closures increased the rate of unemployment in Cambodia, but that around half of the laid-off workers found jobs again in the sector.
"So, the real number of jobless garment workers was less than 30,000," he said.
Ministry figures show that 516 garment and shoe factories are operating in Cambodia, employing 358,660 workers. Of these, 418 factories are in Phnom Penh, employing 262,320, while the 98 factories in other provinces employ about 96,340 workers.
Oum Mean acknowledged the challenges facing the domestic garment sector in the wake of the global economic crisis, which has seen the country lose market share to its competitors in the key U.S. market, according to the Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The conference, which looked at the impact of the global economic crisis on industrial relations in Cambodia, was organized by the Arbitration Council Foundation, set up in 2004 to support the labour dispute resolution work of the Arbitration Council.