Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Panel points out labour shortcomings in study



Panel points out labour shortcomings in study

A union leader shouts slogans during a garment factory protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal court in 2015.
A union leader shouts slogans during a garment factory protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal court in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Panel points out labour shortcomings in study

A committee of labour experts has expressed “deep concern” over Cambodia’s discriminatory sacking of unionists, its controversial Union Law and its long-languishing investigation into the death of union leader Chea Vichea, in an International Labour Organization (ILO) report released late last week.

Vichea, the founder and president of the Free Trade Union for garment workers, was assassinated in broad daylight in 2004. Despite two men being convicted of his murder – they were widely decried as scapegoats and released for lack of evidence years later his actual killers were never found.

In the report, made public on February 8, the committee notes that an inter-ministerial body was created in August 2015 to investigate multiple high-profile unionist murders but little progress had been made. The ILO body goes on to “express its concern with the lack of concrete results concerning the investigations requested despite the time that has elapsed”.

It also calls for Vichea’s killers’ speedy arrest “in order to end the prevailing situation of impunity in the country with regard to violence against trade unionists”.

The report also outlined the “seriousness of allegations” surrounding a fatal early-2014 crackdown on unions, and the sacking of more than 800 union leaders and workers due to their collective action.

The concerns come ahead of a “direct contacts mission” from the ILO, which Ath Thorn, of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said would visit the Kingdom from March 26 to 30. “The current problems include the Trade Union Law, the dismissal of activists and also the finding of the real people who killed Chea Vichea,” Thorn said.

“We, the unions, have a lot of challenges, and the government has not yet settled our demands.”

The controversial Trade Union Law – passed in April last year – had made it more difficult for workers to unionise and for unions to operate, he added.

William Conklin, Cambodia country director at NGO Solidarity Center, said the report opened up a dialogue about the nation’s labour standards.

“There are many sectors that don’t have trade union rights, such as teachers and informal economy workers [This means] they don’t have the same worker protections,” he said. “The aim of these experts is law conformity, to simplify procedures and make labour relations better. Everyone would like Cambodia to move ahead.”

Labour spokesman Heng Sour declined to comment on Vichea’s case or the report itself, saying he had not seen it.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a