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Labour minister touts program’s successes

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Industry officials attend the opening of the Decent Work Programme workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Labour minister touts program’s successes

Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng yesterday announced the Decent Work Programme for Cambodia will be expanded after delivering great results though a workers union said a number of issues still need to be addressed.

During a workshop yesterday Sam Heng said the International Labour Organization backed program – which ran from 2011 to 2015 and sought, among other things, to promote workers’ rights and adequate pay – will be expanded through 2018.

Accomplishments cited by Sam Heng included increases to the minimum wage in the garment industry, a new health insurance scheme and improvements in working conditions as well as improvements in human and financial resources.

Despite Sam Heng’s rosy assessment, however, worker protests over poor conditions remain common, and increases to garment workers’ wages are often hard-fought and criticised as insufficient.

Nationwide wage protests in 2014, for example, ultimately turned violent, with government forces killing five demonstrators.

According to Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, several improvements are still needed.

“We would like to raise a number of issues, such as improving the industrial laws, the unions’ proposed review of the minimum wage, the creation of new jobs for youth and training for technical skills,” he said.

Maurizio Bussi, a representative with ILO, said officials have been consulting about further developments in working conditions and other areas.

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