Cambodia has seen a significant increase in the number of registered trade unions in recent years as a result of the “protection of rights and freedoms” by the government, said Prime Minister Hun Sen in his address marking Labour Day.

Hun Sen issued the message to commemorate the 136th International Labour Day, observed on May 1, this year under the theme of Peace, Health and Job Security.

He said the increase in registered trade unions demonstrates what he described as the continued protection by the government of the right to freedom of association with trade unions.

“The government continues to promote the protection of the rights and freedoms of professional organisations, the harmonisation of industrial relations and the provision of benefits to workers… in accordance with the government’s policy on labour law… and the 13 international labour conventions that Cambodia has ratified,” he said.

Hun Sen noted that these protections had led to the number of trade unions increasing significantly, with a total of 5,746 registered as of 2021.

He said the government has striven to improve the safety and health of workers in factories by requiring the establishment of hospitals, canteens, lactation rooms and nurseries within the premises to improve the wellbeing of workers.

Hun Sen added that occupational accident prevention programmes as well as safety during the transportation and travel of workers have also been actively promoted by the government.

He also used his Labour Day message to call on owners of factories and enterprises to continue participating in the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and implementing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) will be commemorating Labour Day under the theme “Together to promote the rights, freedoms and livelihoods of workers” at the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on May 1.

The CLC said they expected about 800 people to attend the event, including representatives of union federations and partner organisations.

Phnom Penh municipal deputy governors Keut Che and Mean Chanyada had agreed to let the CLC organise International Labour Day commemorations on May 1, but did not allow a proposed workers’ march.

The municipal administration will facilitate representatives receiving petitions at the venue, according to the minutes of the meeting between union representatives and officials of Phnom Penh Municipal Hall released on April 20.