Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More talk, fewer strikes: study




More talk, fewer strikes: study

Garment workers protest at the gates of the National Assembly earlier this year in Phnom Penh.
Garment workers protest at the gates of the National Assembly earlier this year in Phnom Penh. A study to be published next month outlines better communication as means of reducing industry strikes. Heng Chivoan

More talk, fewer strikes: study

In a new study of Cambodia’s garment and footwear industry, the independent conflict resolution Arbitration Council has found that labour strikes are often triggered by factors that could be avoided through better communication between workers and management.

Data from the study – which will be published next month – was presented to union, civil society, factory and government representatives last week, at a convention on labour relations in the Kingdom’s largest export industry.

“The primary aim is to assist parties in being better able to resolve disputes without escalating to strike action,” Men Nimmith, executive director of the Arbitration Council, said in a statement.

“By analysing the industrial relations community’s views on strikes, we can have a better idea of how to improve labour relations.”

A presentation of their findings recommends enhanced collective bargaining, increased transparency and other improvements in relations between employers and workers.

Cambodia’s garment sector has grown from an industry employing fewer than 350,000 people in 2009 to more than 600,000 in 2013, according to Arbitration Council data. During that period, the number of workdays lost to strikes has varied each year, but reached its highest level in 2013 – the year during which an ultimately fatal nationwide garment strike began – with more than 900,000 lost days recorded.

Of the industrial disputes that reached the Arbitration Council, 52 per cent have involved conflict over meal allowances, 32 per cent were related to terminations and 31 per cent involved feuds over attendance bonuses.

“This year’s strikes were contributed by problems at the ground floor faced by management,” Chuon Mom Thol, president of the government-leaning Cambodia Union Federation, said yesterday.

“[But] the unions seem to have more negotiation power; management seems to acknowledge the importance of this dialogue.”

Mom Thol said that he believed strikes have fallen this year compared to last year – with just below 700,000 workdays lost, according to Arbitration Council data.

He added that the industry is seeing an increasing amount of dialogue between unions and management, which will likely lead to fewer strikes in the future.

However, Community Legal Education Center consultant Joel Preston scoffed at the idea that factories are now engaging in more genuine negotiations than before, saying strikes are correlated with wages and cost of living.

“There’s no way that we can consider the current attitude of factory owners, in general, to be engaging in collective bargaining in good faith,” Preston said yesterday.

“What [striking workers are] talking about is their wage and cost of living, and I think that will be the determining factor [in increases or decreases in strikes].”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15