T he prospect of enshring labor rights in Cambodia is creating a stir within the
government, with two draft labor laws being circulated.
A key sticking
point between each law's supporters is how much freedom trade unions should
have, according to one MP.
Moves are afoot to resolve the situation of
having two competing drafts-a situation similar to that of the Supreme Council
of Magistracy law last year-by arranging discussions between the MPs and the
One MP, who did not want to be named, said the MPs' draft was
being stalled because the government was not keen to give unions the right to
hold be demonstrations or strikes, fearing it would deter foreign
"We do not agree with this because our new constitution
guarantees this right," he said.
Kan Mann, a Kandal MP and chairman of
the parliamentary commission on public health, social welfare and women's
affairs, said MPs had been trying to get progress on a labor law for eight
"We think that the labor law is as important as the commercial or
investment laws. We need a quality labor law to attract for reign
" We (the MPs) believe we need to have a labor law that spells out clearly
the rights and obligations of both the employees and employers and which is
compatible with international standards and our new constitution."
He said the MPs drafted their own law because there was no sign of urgency on
the government's part to do so.
"The government's attitude was that the law is not necessary because the SOC
[State of Cambodia] labor law already exists.
"But we now have a democratic constitution, unlike the earlier communist
system," he pointed out.
He said the MPs daft was "about 80 per cent the same
as the SOC law because it was a socialist law and good for the employees".
The important difference was the question of independent trade unions.
The MPs draft law was sent to the National Assembly's permanent committee
last September last year, and forwarded to Kan Mann's commission for review.
But, according to Kann, it has been stalled by the government.
"We expect the government will discuss the issues with us and then produce a
compromise draft, but we have not received any such invitation.
"We have been told that the co-Premiers themselves wrote to National Assembly
chairman Chea Sim in January this year asking that our draft should be
A Ministry of Labor senior official refused comment, saying: "We are in the
process of drafting the law and we cannot discuss it now."