Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unions rally against short-term contracts

Unions rally against short-term contracts

Unions rally against short-term contracts

Leaders of Cambodia’s fractious union movement are uniting to challenge the garment industry’s reliance on short-term employment contracts, and will target the government, the association of factory owners and buyers to rein in factories that are using such contracts to exploit workers, they said yesterday.

If this does not work, they will stage a peaceful, general strike, they said at the end of a two-day meeting on the issue.

A major cause for alarm, they said, was that fixed-duration contracts are being used to avoid paying maternity leave to female staff, who comprise the overwhelming majority of a workforce that produces about 85 per cent of the Kingdom’s exports.

“Women on fixed-duration contracts often have to choose between keeping their jobs and having children,” said Chheng Kim Lang, a representative of the Cambodia

Labour Confederation. She said that because the Labour Law requires employers to provide maternity leave to employees who have worked for them for one year, factory managers were using six-month contracts to avoid this.

The loss of maternity leave was undermining development by lowering the living standards of new mothers and their infants, Chheng Kim Lang said.

Short-term contracts also lessen “labour productivity and corporate competitiveness by discouraging human resource development and jeopardising industrial relations”, a statement from the union leaders said.

At some garment and footwear factories, up to 90 per cent of the staff are on short-term contracts, they said, adding that the use of such contracts is far less prevalent in countries whose garment industries compete with Cambodia’s.

Although the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia has said that the labour ministry has interpreted the law to allow for the indefinite use of fixed-duration contracts, not all of its members use them.

Kevin Plenty, a member of GMAC’s executive committee, said his company, Quantum Clothing (Cambodia) Ltd, uses long-term contracts.

“We prefer long-term contracts because they allow us to increase productivity and efficiency,” he said, adding the company operated the most productive and efficient factory in Cambodia while paying its staff salaries that were “above the living wage, not just the minimum wage”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Oil producers see oversupply

    Major oil producers said on Sunday that crude supply next year would outstrip demand, calling for new strategies based on production adjustments. Khalid al-Falih, Energy Minister of the world’s top supplier Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom would cut its production by 500,000 barrels per day (

  • ‘Historic’ Khmer Rouge tribunal Case 002/2 verdict to be delivered

    The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) are to deliver the verdict on Friday, in the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, in a pronouncement hailed as a “historic event for Cambodia and the world”. The verdict from

  • Record set for world’s longest dragon boat

    Cambodia broke the world record for the longest dragon boat – a title previously held by China, Guinness World Records adjudicator Pravin Patel said on Monday. He verified the record on the east bank of the Mekong river, in Prey Veng province’s Peamro district. “With

  • Analyst: Government appointments ‘a waste of national budget’

    The government has appointed over 200 officials as undersecretaries of state, secretaries of state, assistants and advisers at various institutions since October 1. While senior officials said the appointments were aimed at ensuring higher efficiency at the national level, social analysts said the practice is merely power-sharing