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Arbitration Council receives funds from the US, Sweden

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The Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF) received $2 million in funding from Sweden and the US. Heng Chivoan

Arbitration Council receives funds from the US, Sweden

The Arbitration Council said on Thursday that it handled 2,882 cases from 2003 to 2019, which affected over 1.11 million workers in the industrial and service sectors across the country.

Of these, it found solutions to 75 per cent of the cases, said Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF) executive director Men Nimith, upon receiving additional funding from Sweden and the US.

Speaking at a signing ceremony upon receiving the grant totalling $2.03 million from the Swedish Embassy and USAID in support of the ACF, he said the council had played a crucial role and attained remarkable achievements.

“I thank Sweden and USAID for supporting the ACF for years,” he said, adding that USAID had supported the ACF since 2014 and signed a five-year agreement for a $1.5 million grant on Thursday, while the Swedish Embassy provided a grant totalling $530,000.

A press release on the grants said that the objectives of both were the same. They seek to make Cambodia’s labour relations systems and labour dispute resolution services more effective.

The grants will also raise awareness about the council and promote dispute resolution skills among workers and employers, as well as maintain and promote the council’s institutional integrity and sustainability.

The press release noted that the ACF was established in 2005 to provide technical and managerial services for the council.

It is considered a landmark institution for labour dispute resolutions in Cambodia and essential to support a stable labour market and contribute to the country’s social and economic development.

Samuel Hurtig, the head of development cooperation at the Swedish embassy, said labour markets in all countries were constantly developing and needed to adapt to changes and processes.

Producers need to improve quality and reach profit margins while balancing labour rights such as decent work standards and fair wages, gender equality, as well as manage environmental issues that impact production and working conditions.

“The government’s role is to set policies conducive for labour market development following the laws and regulations.

“Trade unions are key actors to represent the workers’ rights and should be able to do so with the protection of laws. Reliable and independent mechanisms for dispute resolution is a key component in a well-functioning labour market.

“The role of the ACF in the resolution of labour disputes in the labour market is crucial. Sweden will continue to support the ACF to ensure that the council will continue to act independently and professionally,” he said.

USAID acting deputy mission director Javier Castano said it was crucial to maintain a system by which collective disputes can be adjudicated and peacefully resolved by an entity that both workers and employers regard as neutral and impartial.

“That is why we have chosen to support the pivotal role that the council plays in building an environment of confidence for workers, employers and investors, a system which establishes a level playing field for all stakeholders,” he said.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary of state Sovann Vannaroth hailed the agreement for the two grants.

She said financial assistance for the ACF was important to ensure the council continues to solve labour disputes.

“More importantly , we can continue to move forward in fostering the scope of the council in solving labour disputes and labour disputes of individuals in the labour sector,” she said.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina, who was present at the agreement signing ceremony, noted that the council has been very useful for workers.

“It has helped them with legal advice and dispute resolution processes. But we want to see it carry out its work more efficiently.

“We want orders issued by the council to be effective for disputants to implement. The disputants don’t always take these orders seriously and keep them only on paper without putting them into practice,” he said.

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