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Unions unite on draft law

Unions unite on draft law

A COALITION of seven unions issued a joint statement yesterday warning the Ministry of Labour that they would refuse to support the Kingdom’s draft union law if the government continues to ignore their recommendations for it.

The statement, addressed to Labour Minister Vong Soth, claims that union recommendations on the law have been ignored, creating an excessively restrictive piece of legislation.

“We will boycott and will not sign on [to] this draft law on unions,” the statement said. “[We will] advocate at the national and international levels…[and] organise huge strikes or peaceful demonstrations to oppose the law on unions, which restricts the freedom of unions.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, which endorsed the statement, said yesterday that the draft union law – which comprises 17 chapters and 91 articles - will be finalised on July 12 following discussions among the ministry, employers and unions before being sent to the Council of Ministers for approval.

He added that union representatives had previously requested that the ministry amend certain articles and remove others considered “strict”, but that the ministry has ignored the requests.

“I think this law is only in favour of the employers,” Rong Chhun said. “To me, this law is not necessary because the labour law already covers unions. If the government thinks it is necessary then we will not object, but some parts of the law must be amended.”

Oum Mean, secretary of state at Ministry of Labour, declined comment yesterday.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said yesterday that he had not seen the union statement.

“This is the draft law and it is intended to be sent to the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly,” he said, noting that recommendations from the International Labour Organisation had been incorporated in the draft. “It is not for the unions or the employers to approve - we have no right to approve anything.”

A number of unions and civil society organisations have called for an overhaul of the draft union law, claiming that the legislation gives too much authority to the state over the registration, suspension and dissolution of unions.