Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ILO convention still debated

ILO convention still debated

Garment workers fill the street during a protest in front of the Ministry of Labour in December.
Garment workers fill the street during a protest in front of the Ministry of Labour in December. Heng Chivoan

ILO convention still debated

The government has no intention of withdrawing its signature from the International Labour Organization’s freedom of association convention, despite calls for it to reconsider its position, a Ministry of Labour spokesman said yesterday.

“I don’t think we will withdraw. The prime minister [Hun Sen] has already said he will commit to freedom of association,” said the ministry’s Heng Sour. “To my understanding, the government has no intention to [withdraw].”

At the Government-Private Sector Forum on Tuesday, Nang Sothy, from the forum’s industrial relations group, called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to consider whether the ILO’s convention 87 was benefiting Cambodia, in the wake of union-led garment strikes in January in which security forces shot dead at least four workers and factories lost millions of dollars.

“The government should reconsider about continuing to be a signatory of the convention 87 and whether it benefits [Cambodia],” Sothy said.

Sandra D’Amico, vice-president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA), which is part of the industrial relations working group, said yesterday that the call was not aimed at limiting the right to unionise.

“It’s really important to point out that a number of countries including the US have not ratified this convention,” she said.

“Employers are challenging the government … to make sure we get benefit from our ratification.”

In January, CAMFEBA began taking out paid advertisements in newspapers saying that convention 87 did not guarantee the right to strike, a claim an ILO labour law expert later rejected in an email to the Post.

D’Amico said yesterday that the business community was not trying to be hostile towards unions and that, in fact, suspending the right to freedom of association would be “devastating”.

“We’re in the middle of diversifying the economy, and there’s absolutely no way that we would want to go down that route.”

If Cambodia did decide to withdraw its signature from convention 87, it would be in for a “complex” process, said Maurizio Bussi of the ILO’s decent work team. “Obviously, this is something that could not be done overnight,” he 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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