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

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there