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May Day marches ‘not allowed’

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The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall has rejected the requests of eight major labour unions to march in celebration of International Labour Day. POST PIX

May Day marches ‘not allowed’

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall rejected the requests of eight major labour unions to march in celebration of International Labour Day, according to Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn on Thursday.

“We submitted the communique to the municipal hall on March 7. On April 23, they invited us to a meeting and [told us they] would not allow any marches, but would allow us to organise an event in front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC]. We will organise the event accordingly,” said Thorn.

Thorn told The Post on Thursday that the unions had united some 2,000 workers from over 100 unions – eight of which are major labour unions – for the event.

“We will organise the event. We need to assess the actual situation. We still would like to march, but we need to assess our strengths first,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Thursday that while Phnom Penh Municipal Hall had permitted the unions to celebrate at specified locations, they had prohibited them from marching.

“Among the four unions, one union is located in Sen Sok district, two unions will organise an event at Freedom Park, while one union will stage their event in front of the CDC. We’ll permit them to submit petitions at their respective destinations through their representatives, but we’ll not allow any marches as they would cause a lot of traffic congestion,” Pheakdey said.

The government, along with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on Wednesday gave the 133rd International Labour Day the theme Social Protection for Productivity.

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng said that as the Kingdom has seen an average annual economic growth of seven per cent over a span of two decades, the government has created jobs for 99.3 per cent of Cambodia’s total workforce of 10 million.

He continued that the government has also collaborated with bilateral and multilateral partners on human rights, and has more than two million migrant workers abroad who send $2 billion in remittances back to the Kingdom annually.

Sam Heng added that the government has endeavoured to develop safety in the workplace.

Currently some 88 per cent of enterprises have medical personnel on standby, break rooms where employees can eat, breastfeeding rooms, nurseries, libraries and other such facilities for employees on their premises, he claimed.

He said that the monthly minimum wage had increased to $182 and his ministry is committed to eliminating the most serious forms of child labour, with the aim of ending it completely by 2025.

The Ministry urges all relevant parties – namely associations, employers, unions, workers and employees – to fulfil their duties with the utmost diligence, he concluded.