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Labour challenges in ASEAN integration

CAMBODIA will face challenges from the inevitable worker migration that takes place across the ASEAN region once full economic integration arrives in 2015, trade union experts said on Friday.

In a meeting held at the Sunway Hotel in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian labour community expressed concern about the effect that integration could have on the Kingdom.

“We will face the flow of workers among ASEAN member states, so we are concerned about the impact on migrant workers’ rights. That’s a very big issue,” said Vong Sovan, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions. He said it was critical these issues be addressed before the integration take place.

Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Labor Union Federation, said Cambodia needs to make a better effort to facilitate cooperation among the concerned institutions and government to improve working conditions here, as well as regulation.

“Our participation in the [ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council] is to recommend to the government that it protect competition,” he said. Som Aun also called for better training for Cambodian workers ahead of 2015 so that they could compete with neighboring countries for jobs.

Christopher Ng, regional secretary of UNI Asia & Pacific Global Union, said the integration would impact workers’ standard of living according to their circumstances in each ASEAN country. Therefore, Cambodia must benefit as much as it can from that integration.

“The migration of workers is a very important issue. ASEAN has to discuss policy to ensure that the migration of workers would be carefully regulated,” he said. “The trade unions here have to be … participating in the discussion regarding the migration policy.”

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