WHILE the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) is still
not officially recognized by the government, it has announced its plans for the coming
year in the Kingdom's first workers' congress.
MP Kem Sokha, chairman of the National Assembly's Commission on Human Rights and
Reception of Complaints, said the union came from the will of the workers. "Those
who forbid your rights are the thieves who steal your rights," he said. "Those
who don't support the free trade union, don't support the people."
Minister of Industry Pou Sothirak attended the congress and expressed approval for
the union's plans. "I would like to express support and respect to the unanimous
decision to continue their work to serve the interest of the workers," he said.
Plans include: setting up a legal office, a skill training center, sport and entertainment
programs; urging the government to recognize the union; guaranteeing that management
respect the rights of workers; strengthening organized labor; increasing union leadership;
raising wages and reducing working hours.
About 1,000 workers from 15 garment factories who attended the congress at Chaktomuk
Theater on Feb 2 unanimously agreed to the FTUWKC's new plans.
Sothirak appealed to workers to fulfill their duties and work closely with management.
He said it is not in the government's interests to have workers abused by factory
He stressed events over the past month occurred automatically because both employers
and employees lack an understanding of their respective rights and duties.
There has been some concern among unionists that workers have been fired from their
jobs for being agitators or refusing to work overtime. According to complaints to
human right groups and labor organizations, about 40 workers were fired in January
by Tack Fat, Gennon and Wing Hwa factories.
FTUWKC advisor Sok Van Khema said the issue of firing workers is a serious burden
for the union. He said it has contacted the International Labor Organization and
international trade unions to help meet the demands of workers.