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Divide over Union Law

People protest against the Trade Union Law in front of the National Assembly in March.
People protest against the Trade Union Law in front of the National Assembly in March. Heng Chivoan

Divide over Union Law

Ten pro-government unions on Friday released statements in support of Cambodia’s recently passed Trade Union Law, just days after two independent unions held a meeting to discuss hoped-for changes to the contentious legislation.

The independent unions met last week to compile a list of amendments to the law that they plan to put forth to the government later this month.

Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, one of the two independent unions, said they had faced problems with registering new affiliates and were being restricted in the level of assistance they could give workers on the factory floor.

“Unions now have limited rights to defend workers when they come to us for help,” she said. “We wanted to discuss this with each other and make suggestions to the government.”

The law, which was promulgated in May, has received criticism from international worker groups and unions for excluding informal workers, cumbersome financial reporting requirements and restrictive union formation rules.

But the 10 pro-government unions – including the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia, Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions (CCTU) and Cambodian Council of National Unions – sent out nearly identitcal statements on Friday saying they were committed to implementing the law and that it had thus far had no negative impact whatsoever on their memberships.

“We still support the Union Law, because the purpose is to strengthen the rule of law, respect for workers’ rights and ensure harmonisation in Cambodia,” said CCTU president Chhoun Momthol.

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