Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen says no need for labour courts, proposes solution to mass faintings

Hun Sen says no need for labour courts, proposes solution to mass faintings

Prime Minister Hun Sen poses for a photograph with garment workers in Phnom Penh this morning. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen poses for a photograph with garment workers in Phnom Penh this morning. Facebook

Hun Sen says no need for labour courts, proposes solution to mass faintings

Prime Minister Hun Sen today said there is in fact no need to set up labour courts to solve workplace disputes – despite the Labour Law stipulating their creation – and expressed hope that existing mechanisms, including the government, unions and employers could act in their place.

Speaking to workers in Phnom Penh, the premier said labour disputes should be resolved through compromises, where all parties come out as “winners”. But having a court system, he continued, would effectively create “losers”.

“So we need to find a way to all be winners. Don’t have a winner and don’t have a loser – it is the best,” he said.

Cambodia’s Labour Law spells out the creation of labour courts to address worker-employer disputes. The now-benched draft labour dispute resolution law looked into the creation of such courts. Currently, complainants can approach the Arbitration Council or a court of first instance.

Hun Sen also addressed longstanding cases of mass fainting at factories and instances of it at schools, saying provisions of unspecified pills, which he also referred to as “candy”, could solve this problem.

“They should use pills or candy to protect against any poisonous substances, because in the past when we were in the armed forces and we had any suspicious [symptoms], we often had a candy” that alleviated them, he said, adding further research was needed.

Unionists Pav Sina and Yang Sophorn both agreed that stricter inspection of factory working conditions and ensuring factories improved any shortcomings on the factory floor would help alleviate mass faintings.

However, their opinions differed on the need for labour courts. Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said existing dispute resolution mechanisms were sufficient but needed strengthening.

But Sophorn, who heads the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said specialised labour courts were needed to better protect workers in compliance with the Labour Law.“I think it will be hard for our workers to find justice when the regular courts make judgments on labour disputes,” she said.

Both leaders declined to address the “candy” proposal, and it remained unclear what substance the premier was referencing.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached and the International Labour Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the premier was hoping all involved parties could use nonconfrontational methods, mediation and arbitration to solve factory disputes.

Even without the courts, he pointed to the Arbitration Council and Courts of First Instance for legal recourse. He said a case could be made to provide the current courts with staffers trained in the intricacies of the Labour Law.

“If the government’s intention is to not set up labour courts, then there can be value to have specialised labour judges in court of first instance,” he said.

Labour rights activist Moeun Tola and William Conklin, country director for the Solidarity Center, said attempts should be made to make Arbitration Council rulings binding or enforced by courts. Currently they are binding only if both parties agree to it beforehand.

“And hopefully that can be resolved through collective bargaining agreements or sectoral memorandums of understanding,” Conklin said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a