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Transport worker groups to join international union

Transport worker groups to join international union

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Participants at the ITF conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel on Wednesday. THOMAS GAM NIELSEN

SEVERAL Cambodian transport worker unions have announced plans to join the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

During a two-day seminar that ended Thursday, representatives from 11 different trade unions, along with government officials, discussed the possibility of future cooperation with the ITF on how best to secure transport workers' rights.

"The big international companies work globally, and we need to unionise globally as well," said Shigeru Wada, the ITF's regional secretary for the Asia-Pacific region, on Wednesday, adding that when global transport companies like DHL enter a new country, the ITF tries to ensure minimum wages and conditions.  

Neou Dina, a member of the Association de Sauvetage, an association of railway workers, said he wanted  his union to join the ITF.

"I hope that we will get a lot of experience and knowledge [from membership]," he said.

Transport unions were also present, and a tuk-tuk driver  representative spoke about their problems with authorities.

"Nowadays, most tuk-tuk drivers have problems with the police. We do not have proper parking places, and tuk-tuk drivers are often fined by police when they park along roads," said Heng Sam Orn, general secretary of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Associations.

His association expects to use the ITF to communicate their needs and problems to others around the world.

"It would be very important for us to be members of ITF in the future. When we have activities, the ITF can help us communicate [globally]," he said.

The ITF has 654 member unions representing 4.5 million transport workers in 148 countries, but currently the CPP-affiliated Trade Union of Sihanoukville Port is the only Cambodian member of the ITF. It's president, Nhim Vuth, said he was "glad with the cooperation that they have had during the last eight years".

ITF's Shigeru Wada said the transport workers were well-organised in many countries, but in Cambodia they still needed more cooperation.

"Unions might be too fractured in political tendencies, [but] we try to find a more common base," he said.  

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