Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MoU the key to compliance

MoU the key to compliance

MoU the key to compliance

120726_02

Garment workers protest in Phnom Penh earlier this week. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Amid a spate of garment factory strikes – including one at Tai Yang Enterprises that has lasted more than a month – Cambodia’s Arbitration Council yesterday said it wanted the industry to renew a memorandum of understanding on industrial action that has been in limbo since November.

“[The MoU] is something we would like the industry to come to the table on,” Arbitration Council Foundation executive director Sok Lor told the Post.

Strikes have increased significantly at garment factories since the MoU expired, while the Arbitration Council, an independent body funded by the World Bank, has also experienced a dramatic surge in cases across many industries.

The MoU, introduced in 2010, spelled out striking as a last resort and committed parties to comply with Arbitration Council rulings – not usually required because the council has no enforcement powers.

“In that environment, when we issued decisions, generally there was good compliance,” Lor said. “Strikes also dropped significantly – actually we had the lowest strike numbers ... basically in the eight-year history of the Arbitration Council.”

Disputes are sent to the Arbitration Council if they cannot be resolved through mediation between the Ministry of Labour, employers and workers.

The council’s arbitrators include HR professionals, lawyers, retired ministry officials and former unionists.

About 30 per cent of cases the Arbitration Council hears go unresolved due to non-compliance, Lor said, including the strike at Tai Yang Enterprises in Kandal province, which has continued despite an order for the strikers to return to work while mediation takes place.

“If we would like our [success rate] to go up, then there should be some fundamental changes in the policy to make everything binding, so that a party has no choice to not follow,” he said, adding this change did not have to be by way of the MoU.

“But we don’t want it coming from us; we would like the industry to agree to something.”

Ken Loo, the secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said GMAC had discussed renewing an amended MoU with unions.

“[Reducing strikes] is not what we’re hoping to achieve [with this document], but if it helps then that is great,” he said.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said the MoU could be signed in the next two weeks.

“The truth is that disputes can be resolved and limited under an MoU,” he said.

The Arbitration Council was important but useless if its decisions were ignored, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]
Mom Kunthear at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman