As the ASEAN Economic Community agreement nears its implementation on December 31, a network of trade unions has warned that the regional labour market’s liberalisation could spark a “race to the bottom” and harm poor Cambodian workers due to rampant cost-cutting.
“Most of the jobs being generated under a liberalized market are poor quality and cannot sustain a decent standard of living,” read a statement from yesterday released by ASETUC, a Malaysia-based network of ASEAN trade unions.
“[Workers] have witnessed a lot of businesses restructuring their operations to compete and jobs increasingly becoming precarious, irregular, unprotected and unstable.”
In the release, ASETUC urged ASEAN members like Cambodia to ratify a draft agreement ensuring the rights of workers in the region.
Cambodian ASETUB member Sok Kin said the agreement would “help our migrant workers abroad while helping Cambodia and ASEAN join together as one community”.
Bot Kosal, a member of the Cambodian Independent Civil Servants Association, agreed, saying workers badly needed a regional standard.