Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng has told the visiting International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation that Cambodia respects the rights and freedoms accorded to trade union members, and that no workers have been arrested or harassed for legally exercising them.

Samheng met with the ILO delegation led by Takanobu Teramoto on March 28 at the ministry to discuss the development of the labour sector and Cambodia’s upholding of trade union members’ rights.

The meeting marks the third time that the ILO delegation has visited Cambodia.

Welcoming the visit, Samheng said the delegation’s presence in Cambodia was “very important” for them to learn about the labour sector in Cambodia, as well as for stakeholders to demonstrate the progress that has been made with regards to respecting trade union members’ rights.

“In line with the ILO Convention No 87 and Cambodia’s Labour Law, the government grants full rights and freedoms for employees and employers to freely form and associate with trade unions, without force or threats.

“In Cambodia, there has never been an employee or trade union leader who has been arrested for exercising their legal right to participate in unionisation and union activity,” Samheng said.

He said he expected that after their visit, the ILO delegation would have “enough” information on which to evaluate the labour sector, which “would be gained through meeting with the ministry’s technical officials and representatives of trade unions”.

Having accurate and complete information would allow them to make evaluations with “good judgement” based on national and international laws and regulations, he said.

Samheng added that the ministry “looks forward” to receiving recommendations from the ILO delegation on how to improve labour conditions and strengthen trade union members’ rights in accordance with the local social context and economy.

Teramoto thanked Samheng for his “warm welcome” and said that the delegation’s meeting with the ministry would “enable them [ILO] to make the right conclusion regarding rights and freedoms of trade unions, based on labour law and international conventions that Cambodia had ratified.”

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), suggested that the ILO visit was to check on whether the organisation’s convention had been fully implemented in Cambodia.

Tola said the Kingdom has “not yet fully ensured” that the rights of trade union members are respected, given that some union members still face challenges when it comes to being allowed to express their opinions.

“The enforcement of freedoms of trade unions and their members in Cambodia still has obstacles, key of which include the fact that trade unions that truly support their members at work have been victimised [by the legal process],” he said.