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Union Law ‘close to finished’

Ministry of Labour officials said this week that a controversial draft trade union law is “90 per cent” complete and they are now waiting for inter-ministerial review of the language before they submit it for approval.

The finalised version of the law looks set to be submitted to the Council of Ministers by the end of the month, Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday. They had previously expected the draft legislation to appear before the Council of Ministers in May.

“It could not be finalised in May, so we expect it to be complete in June, maybe in a couple of weeks,” Sour said. “I think it will not take long for it to be published.”

If the Council of Ministers approves the law, he added, it will then go before the National Assembly and Senate for debate and possible ratification.

Independent union leaders and civil society organisations have complained about the ministry’s exclusion of their views in the drafting process. The latest version of the legislation non-government stakeholders have seen – which was obtained by Human Rights Watch – is about eight months old.

Union and civil society leaders have pointed to aspects of the law that place stricter requirements on labour unions to register as being counterproductive.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, yesterday said that the law would diminish union rights.

“[The law includes] the government’s right to dissolve unions, punishments, penalties . . . a lot of things would be more restrictive [for unions],” Athit said. “I think that the existing labour law is quite clear, but only some parts need to be amended.”

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