Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Report from labour council says Kingdom disputes down in 2017



Report from labour council says Kingdom disputes down in 2017

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Labour Minister Ith Somhenh presides over a meeting of the Arbitration Council in Phnom Penh on Monday. Heng Chivoan

Report from labour council says Kingdom disputes down in 2017

In its 2017 Annual Report, the Arbitration Council said collective labour disputes registered with it had dropped significantly after the government implemented the Trade Union Law.

Launched on Monday, the report said the council received 248 labour disputes in 2016, but last year only 50 cases were filed for arbitration.

“During the last two years the situation changed significantly, and the number of cases registered at the Arbitration Council declined. This could be due to the implementation of the Trade Union Law,” said the report.

The government enacted the law in May 2016 to facilitate the settlement of employer-employee disputes, and improve industrial relations between both parties.

On average, the council received 20 cases each month, but it gradually fell to five cases per month after the law was introduced in September 2016.

However, there is a flip side to the story. While the council insists that employer-employee disputes had dropped sharply, workers’ representatives lament that the law is a setback as labour grouses cannot be taken up for arbitration due to bureaucratic hurdles.

Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central) program coordinator Khun Tharo said registering trade unions was a cumbersome process as the law was complicated.

“Registering a trade union is complicated because the requirements are complicated. Starting from 2017, many found it hard to register and are unable to function.

“When unions do not have documents to prove they are workers’ representatives, how can they represent them in disputes? So it is a challenge to solve labour issues and presents a problem for workers too,” Tharo said.

He said labour officials are given the jurisdiction to decide whether to send workers’ disputes to the Arbitration Council in the first place.

“The law gives so much power to the officials and they have the right to reject the case or forward it to the council. In most cases, they say we don’t have representation or we do not have the (legal) documents to represent labour cases,” Tharo claimed.

On the same note, he praised the council’s work as most of their decisions were recognised by international companies, especially foreign ones.

“The Arbitration Council helped to improve working conditions, compensate workers and provide workers’ benefits. It effectively solved 70 per cent of the cases. Overall it is efficient.

“I think the government should amend the Trade Union Law, and make it easier to register unions so they can represent workers. Most importantly, we must have direct access to the cases so they need not be referred by labour officials,” he said.

‘Workers scared’

Unions and labour rights’ activists claimed that the decline in labour cases going for arbitration does not indicate a drop in employer-employee disputes.

Cambodia Alliance of Trade Union (CATU) president Yang Sophorn said the prevailing trend is not healthy for industrial relations, especially for workers.

“It does not mean disputes do not happen. Workers are just scared of protests because they are afraid they would be beaten up. And, it does not mean both employers and workers understand each other better either.

“When disputes happen, workers, employers and the government are at the losing end. It really affects workers’ interest when their disputes are not resolved,” she said.

Labour Dispute Department said the 476 individual labour cases were registered with the department in 2017. Of this, 228 were solved, 191 cases could not be settled and 57 cases were thrown out.

The department also received 127 collective labour disputes and managed to solve 56 cases, while 70 was not settled and one case was rejected.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration