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CNRP picks union law team

Union officials march toward Phnom Penh’s National Assembly in November to deliver a petition to lawmakers against the controversial trade union draft law.
Union officials march toward Phnom Penh’s National Assembly in November to deliver a petition to lawmakers against the controversial trade union draft law. Pha Lina

CNRP picks union law team

The opposition has selected five of its members to join a bipartisan committee to examine the draft trade union law, a step the ruling party has not yet made amid murkiness about when the group will actually meet.

The law has come under fire from independent unions, who charge that it will restrict freedom of association in the Kingdom.

In response, the government delayed the law’s proposal to the National Assembly and announced on December 10 the creation of a bipartisan committee to examine the law.

Son Chhay, a Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker representing Phnom Penh, said yesterday that he would serve as the head of the opposition wing of the committee.

The other four opposition members are Kampong Cham representatives Vann Narith and Kimsour Phirith, Kratie representative Keo Phirum, and Takeo representative Ou Chanrith.

Chhay also said that the CNRP was looking to meet with trade unions, civil society organisations, and the International Labour Organization sometime at the end of the month or in early January to discuss concerns and potential amendments to the controversial piece of legislation.

“We should have the law to protect trade unions. It should not violate the Labour Law and should respect the rights of workers,” he said.

Although the committee was originally planned to be created “immediately”, it remains unclear exactly when it will meet.

Ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan said he did not know of any specific dates and that the Cambodian People’s Party was still in the process of selecting its own members.

He slammed, however, efforts by unions to paint the union law as restricting union freedoms by making it easier for the government to de-register them.

“Right now, all the unions are concerned about the government creating this law. However, the government is doing it to provide benefits to workers and employers [to encourage] investment in Cambodia,” he said.

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, one of the independent unions campaigning against the law, said he had “no idea” why the creation of the group was taking so long.

“I think maybe it is the political deadlock,” he said, referencing the CNRP’s boycott of parliamentary voting sessions, which ended last week.

Mora added that unions had yet to hear back from a letter they sent to the CPP asking to meet its lawmakers to discuss the law.

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