The Senate on Monday approved draft amendments to 10 articles of the Law on Trade Unions at the fourth session of the fourth legislature. It did so without modification, following its approval by the National Assembly last month.
The 10 articles comprise Articles 3, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 54, 55 and 59 of the Law on Trade Unions, which was promulgated in 2016.
A press release from the Senate on Monday announced that the amendments were meant to revise provisions of the articles to ensure the protection of workers’ rights and freedom of unions.
The statement said the trade union law had also enhanced Cambodia’s capacity to attract investment, create jobs and show the government’s commitment to promoting labour rights according to international standards.
On November 26, the National Assembly unanimously approved the draft amendments to the law with 107 votes.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina told The Post on Monday that the approval was not surprising as the National Assembly had never been receptive to suggestions and recommendations from relevant institutions.
He expressed disappointment with the amendments to the trade union law as unions had been proposing a series of ideas even before the law was approved in 2016, but their input had not been incorporated.
For the last amendment, suggestions from the unions were largely ignored and excluded.
“I think they made little revision to the law. So its implementation remains a problem. As we’ve seen, the rights of workers and freedom of unions were restricted by the law. It restricts us to only accompanying workers instead of having the right to represent them,” he said.
Sina said some articles restricted the power of unions to protect workers’ interests, with workers likewise losing their right to choose representatives they trusted and believed in.
Checking financial reports and appointing an independent auditor to inspect activities are also forms of interference in the internal affairs of unions, Sina said, adding that a majority of union statutes had been established under the guidance of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
“Our workers, despite having no union group or workers’ representatives, have the fundamental right to make demands when employers violate and exploit their rights.
“According to the law, union groups should register at the ministry before they can carry out the task of protecting workers’ interests. This restricts the workers’ fundamental rights and union freedoms,” said Sina.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment on Monday.