In a recent article, you reported on a demand by unionists and striking garment factory workers that two administrators be fired.
Under the law, their demand is not only illegal but also a serious abuse of the right to employment – a right that protects all workers, even managers and administrators.
The Cambodian Constitution is the highest law in the Kingdom and it accords all Cambodians with equal rights. Article 31 of the constitution ensures citizens equality before the law and that they all have the same rights and freedoms. The article also adds that the exercise of personal rights and freedoms by any individual shall not adversely affect the rights and freedom of others. Moreover, Article 36 clearly states that citizens shall have the right to choose their employment according their ability and the needs of society.
Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out these rights: (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
In addition, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights says that the states party to the covenant recognise the right to work.
According to my observations, there have been numerous other cases of striking workers demanding the firing of supervisors or administrators who are also employees at their factories. Although the workers have the right to strike, their demands should not affect others’ rights and freedom. Thus, the demand of the strikers at Tae Young seriously violates the right to employment of other employees.
The two administrators cannot be fired unless they committed serious misconduct, according to Article 83 of Labour Law.
Suppose the factory agreed to the demand to fire the two administrators; the administrators would be fully within their legal right to file a court complaint on the grounds of illegal dismissal. They could also request compensation and/or reinstatement.
A demand like this poses a dilemma to an employer. As advocates of labour and human rights, unions should stop making such demands.
Master in Private Law
Royal University of Law and Economics