Offering freedom to trade unions has led to a significant increase in their numbers, with a total of 6,064 professional trade unions registered as of the end of the first quarter of the year.

This includes 5,741 local unions, 268 trade union confederations, 42 union confederations and 13 employers’ associations, according to Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng, who addressed a celebration of the 137th anniversary of International Labour Day on May 1.

The event was attended by representatives from trade unions, employers and the International Labour organisation (ILO).

“We have protected the rights and the freedoms of trade unions and maintained professional relations that benefitted workers. The government has also offered social protection in line with its policies, labour laws, and the 13 international labour conventions ratified by Cambodia,” he said.

Samheng recommended that labour laws, laws on trade unions and the international labour conventions be stringently implemented, to strengthen professional relations.

Tep Kim Vannary, president of the Cambodian General Confederation of Unions (CGCU) noted that Cambodia has given full rights and freedoms to workers and employers to establish and exercise their right to freedom of trade unions without coercion, intimidation, abuse or persecution through legal action.

ILO national coordinator Tun Sophorn said that Cambodia used to have problems with workers protesting in the streets, but now they tended to meet at the negotiating table to resolve disputes constructively.

“Strengthening professional relations is an important factor in promoting social and economic progress in Cambodia, and we are committed to expanded cooperation that promotes the decent work and addresses common issues. In this way, we can protect the interests of workers, employers and all parties,” he added.

In a letter celebrating the occasion, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia had implemented laws which promote the freedom of trade unions.

“Peaceful and harmonious professional relations have been strengthened. Thanks to the capacity building of reconciliation and arbitration officers and stakeholders, the promotion of social dialogue through tripartite mechanisms, and the expansion of the Arbitration Council’s services in resolving individual disputes, labour disputes are settled more effectively,” it read.