Labour Min­istry re­ceives coun­sel on labour rights

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Niem Ch­heng

TWO US-based or­gan­i­sa­tions sent a let­ter to the Min­istry of Labour and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing last week, fol­low­ing a meet­ing with it in Oc­to­ber to dis­cuss the rights of work­ers in the King­dom’s gar­ment and footwear sec­tor, among oth­ers.

Fair La­bor As­so­ci­a­tion (FLA) and Amer­i­can Ap­parel & Footwear As­so­ci­a­tion (AAFA) wrote a joint fol­low-up let­ter to the min­is­ter, Ith Sam Heng, rec­om­mend­ing that the govern­ment im­prove work­ers’ rights.

“At the cen­tre of these rec­om­men­da­tions is our view that work­ers need the free­dom to rep­re­sent and speak for them­selves with­out fear of re­tal­i­a­tion or ret­ri­bu­tion. We hope that this core value will in­form what­ever re­form your govern­ment is tak­ing to go for­ward,” the let­ter said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions ex­pressed “par­tic­u­lar con­cerns” over the crim­i­nal charges against sev­eral union lead­ers, say­ing they “un­der­mined the role and re­duced the in­de­pen­dence of the Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil which pre­vi­ously had been a very ef­fec­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion mech­a­nism”.

“We urge [the Cam­bo­dian] govern­ment to guar­an­tee re­spect for hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms and pro­vide full pro­tec­tion of all hu­man rights de­fend­ers in your coun­try.

“Po­lit­i­cal free­doms, rule of law and en­force­ment of in­ter­na­tional civil and labour rights are es­sen­tial for in­ter­na­tional trade and re­spon­si­ble busi­ness,” the let­ter read.

FLA and AAFA rec­om­mended that the govern­ment use the Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil to solve work-re­lated dis­putes and make the union reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem sim­pler and trans­par­ent by pub­lish­ing com­plete and cur­rent sta­tis­tics of union reg­is­tra­tion and its sta­tus.

They also urged the govern­ment to al­low unions to write their own by-laws with­out in­ter­fer­ence, re­move le­gal re­stric­tions and lengthy pro­ce­dures that make le­gal strikes nearly im­pos­si­ble and to re­move Ar­ti­cle 13 of the Trade Union Law.

More­over, the groups rec­om­mended the govern­ment to amend some parts in the Law on As­so­ci­a­tions and Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions (Lango) by “re­mov­ing oner­ous and in­tru­sive re­port­ing re­quire­ments”.

“Stop us­ing meth­ods that in­tim­i­date civil so­ci­ety groups, such as send­ing po­lice to visit their of­fice, in­tim­i­dat­ing staff and fam­ily mem­bers, as well as fil­ing crim­i­nal charges that will never be re­solved in a timely man­ner,” the let­ter ended.

Cam­bo­dia Al­liance of Trade Union (Catu) pres­i­dent Yan Saphorn said: “I sup­port the rec­om­men­da­tions. We work for work­ers’ rights. We want ap­pre­ci­a­tion, not law­suits.”


Gar­ment work­ers climb onto a trans­port truck in Phnom Penh. Two US-based or­gan­i­sa­tions sent rec­om­men­da­tions re­lated to work­ers’ rights to the Labour Min­istry last week.

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