The Swedish government has granted the Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF) 2.5 million kroner ($268,000) to strengthen the Kingdom’s industrial relations and resolve labour disputes, among other objectives.
The grant provision agreement was signed by Samuel Hertig, Counsellor Deputy Head of Mission Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy in Cambodia, and ACF executive director Men Nimmith in Phnom Penh.
The ACF issued a statement saying that “the grant will be used to fund this year’s projects aimed to strengthen the effectiveness and convenience in providing labour dispute resolution services trusted by relevant parties; to increase the capacity of relevant parties in the industrial relations, participation in prevention of their disputes and social dialogue in an effective manner; as well as to strengthen the integrity and sustainability of the Arbitration Council and other services”.
Lauding Sweden’s commitment to supporting the ACF, Nimmith stressed the importance of the grant, saying “political issues contribute to the shortage of funds”.
He said: “The new rules in the Trade Union Law have resulted in a decrease in disputes sent to the Arbitration Council. Some donor countries suspended their funding because they saw we had fewer cases, or maybe they thought the use of their funds was not as effective as they had expected.”
Nimmith continued that “the core work of the Arbitration Council is in dispute resolution. When the parties to a dispute cannot resolve their matter at the Ministry of Labour, their case will be sent to the Arbitration Council for resolution”.
He said the number of collective labour disputes processed by the council has skyrocketed. “It used to be five, but now we have 11-12 cases every month.”
Hurtig said education and labour related issues are the focus areas for his department’s development missions.
“Arbitration Council Foundation has significantly contributed to solving labour disputes with fair and equitable solutions over the past years,” he said.
Hurtig noted that between 2014 and last year, Sweden contributed more than $1.2 million to ACF to “promote effective labour market governance environment for the private sectors and social development through the provision of a well-functioning and credible labour dispute arbitration system”.