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FTU vows boycott of Arbitration Council

One of Cambodia’s largest labour unions yesterday announced a boycott of the Arbitration Council, complaining that the labour disputes body disproportionately favours factories over unions and employees.

A letter to Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng dated yesterday and signed by Free Trade Union president Chea Mony says that because of perceived bias against workers, the FTU will no longer go through the arbitration process. The union will instead take matters straight to court.

“We decided to boycott, to not use the Arbitration Council … until we see this Arbitration Council become independent and change their attitude,” Mony said yesterday.

An official from the Arbitration Council Foundation yesterday declined to comment specifically on the boycott.

In contrast with Mony’s complaints of council bias and factories’ noncompliance with rulings, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said GMAC felt “the opposite”.

"The AC would always be in favour of the workers if the law is a little gray, as they are ruling on the principle of equity," Monika said. "[Mony's] perceived non-independence may be because more often than not, the cases were mainly benefit disputes, which the AC cannot decide and so refuses to consider the union’s demand. If a union demands more bonuses or, for example, a $26 per month lunch allowance, which is now stipulated in the law, how could the AC rule?

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