Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fears wage law article could crimp research

Fears wage law article could crimp research

Officials discuss a universal minimum wage at a meeting at the Ministry of Labour on Sunday. Photo supplied
Officials discuss a universal minimum wage at a meeting at the Ministry of Labour on Sunday. Photo supplied

Fears wage law article could crimp research

New concerns have been raised that a provision within the draft law on an expanded minimum wage would pose a serious threat to independent research on labour issues.

If passed into law, the draft – a copy of which was obtained by the Post earlier this week – would establish Cambodia’s first-ever universal minimum wage. The minimum wage would be debated and set each year by a tripartite “minimum wage council”, with at least 48 seats filled equally by union representatives, employers and government officials.

Civil society members and union leaders expressed alarm when the draft surfaced this week over provisions they feared would have a chilling effect on trade union activities, particularly the right to strike.

But concerns are now also mounting that Article 16 of the draft law would violate the free speech rights of academics, trade unions and workers. Under the article, any person or institution, other than the minimum wage council, who wished to conduct research into wage issues would have to first obtain permission from the Ministry of Labour or risk a $2,500 fine.

William Conklin, country director at labour rights NGO Solidarity Centre, said he believed the article was motivated by a desire to ensure all data used in minimum wage discussions were centralised and vetted, but he also felt the law went too far.

“You’re basically violating the fundamental freedom of expression. You’re saying academic research has to be filtered, and there’s no real rationale for this,” Conklin said, adding that the provision could inhibit unions from conducting basic surveys during salary negotiations with employers. “To say it all has to be sanctioned by an authority is unworkable.”

Piseth Duch, who heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ business and human Rights program, said in an email earlier this week that the provision would limit the role of institutions other than the minimum wage council in salary discussions.

“Given a lack of transparency and independence of many public agents in general in Cambodia, I think the ministry should enable independent researchers or institutions to freely conduct their own comprehensive research and share with the council and ministry,” Duch said. “By doing so, it could help solve some limitations of the ministry’s resources.”

The provision was also described as “a huge problem” by Ou Virak, of think tank Future Forum, who said it would even “limit the ability of NGOs to propose the living wage”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180