The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has ended discussions on amendments to the Labour Law and plans to send a draft to the inter-ministerial group for review before it goes to the National Assembly for approval.

Some trade unions have agreed to the amendments while others have boycotted the process.

Labour minister Ith Sam Heng led a meeting last week attended by government officials, employers, and trade unions.

The goal was to continue discussing the amendments to the Labour Law and comprehensively finalise the draft law.

The law is supposed to be approved by the end of this year.

Sam Heng said during the meeting that his ministry had set up a feasibility study group to amend the Labour Law in line with the socio-economic context.

The group had finished a preliminary study of necessity and the benefits of amending the Labour Law. He said it had cooperated with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to organise a tripartite consultative workshop in January to discuss the possibility of amending the law.

First, the ministry revised the night-shift wage rates equal to the day-shift wage rates under new Article 144 and relevant articles.

Second, it cancelled a day-off that falls on Sunday in Article 162 and relevant articles. Third, it expanded the scope of the Arbitration Council in solving individual disputes in Article 300 and relevant articles.

“The revision of the night-shift wage rates is to create and increase a variety of job opportunities for Cambodians and contribute to economic development.

“The point of this amendment doesn’t prejudice the interests of workers who work a night shift occasionally or alternatively. This is the reason this point is applied only for night-shift workers,” Sam Heng said.

He said that the cancellation of the day off didn’t run counter to international labour conventions. The amendments are intended to boost productivity and promote the competiveness of Cambodia in facilitating investments and national development. Cambodia is still a country that has less working hours than in other countries in the region.

Sam Heng said the expansion of the scope of the Arbitration Council was to participate in strengthening the effectiveness of mechanisms to solve labour disputes in Cambodia.

He said it gives parties a choice to choose mechanisms to solve disputes and is in line with the global principle so parties can get justice quickly.

National Trade Union president Fa Saly said he didn’t oppose the amendments to the Labour Law, but he didn’t want Article 162 revised.

“This draft law will be sent to the inter-ministerial group and the National Assembly for review and approval,” he said.

Six independent trade unions boycotted the discussions and requested the ministry to drop the amendments because the new law will hurt workers.

The trade unions consisted of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Confederation of Cambodian Worker-Movement (CCW).