Considerable progress in labour dispute resolution was made in 2023, as reported by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training last week, following their recent annual meeting. 

The report indicated that the ministry enhanced the efficiency of mediating disagreements by implementing new mechanisms and bolstering the capabilities of reconciliation officials. 

It said the ministry has strengthened social dialogue partnerships, tripartite frameworks and the role of the Arbitration Council in out-of-court settlements, alongside improving labour arbitration procedures.

“We had settled 1,005 disputes. Of these, 829 [82.49 per cent] were reconciled, 148 [14.73 per cent] remained unresolved and 28 cases [2.79 per cent] were annulled,” stated the report. 

It noted that the disagreements comprised 818 individual cases (81.39 per cent) and 187 collective labour disputes (18.61 per cent). Among these, 22 cases were referred to the Arbitration Council, resulting in 16 court orders and six reconciliations by the council.

“Through labour dispute resolution mechanisms, the rates of reconciliation by officials and the [council] rose from 73.33 per cent in 2022 to 90.37 per cent in 2023.

“This demonstrates an improvement in our … proceedures and a higher level of understanding among those involved in dispute resolution,” it said.

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Union Coalition (NTUC), said on February 12 that there was a notable enhancement in resolving disputes and strikes, attributing this to the focused efforts of the labour dispute resolution department. 

“I ask that the labour minister [Heng Sour] check or replace some officials and advisers because certain [of them] had previously persecuted trade unions, affecting work activities. Therefore, I hope that the ministry will review the cases to ensure trade union harmony in the labour sector,” he added.

In addition to advancements in labour conflict settlement, the ministry’s report also indicated a reduction in strikes and demonstrations. 

According to the report, the ministry has successfully resolved 119 strikes at 101 factories and addressed 12 demonstrations at eight factories.