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Garment sector to tackle employment contract problems

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Women working at a local garment industry. More than 90 percent of workers in the sector are women. KT/Ven Rathavong

As the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training finalises its latest amendment to the Labour Law, representatives and labour union leaders convened to discuss fixed duration contracts (FDCs).

Recent disputes in the garment sector have largely centered on the use of FDCs versus unspecified duration contracts (UDCs), with workers in the sector, which are mostly women, complaining that short-term FDCs leave them in a precarious situation, without the peace of mind and security afforded by UDCs.

The meeting on Friday focused on FDCs and UDCs, particularly, the changes the will be introduced under the new ministerial regulation, its potential impacts on the sector, and how employers should prepare.

Participant’s comments on the new instruction were collected by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (Camfeba) who will submit a report with the feedback to the ministry.

The exclusion of seniority bonuses and the terms of renewals for contracts were some of the most contentious issues addressed during the meeting.

“The new ministerial regulation presents new challenges with regard to the hiring and firing of employees or workers that span across not only the labour intensive industries but also the rest of the business sector,” said Sok Lar, Camfeba’s secretary general.

“Diverging and contradictory interpretations and implementation of provisions in employment contracts have caused tension, even disputes, between employers and employees, including those in labour intensive industries.”

In November last year, speaking to thousands of factory workers in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed the need for mutual tolerance and understanding between workers and employers in the sector.

“If employment contracts are too short, workers worry and feel unwell,” Mr Hun Sen said.

“However, if a job has to be done in a short time and employees are asking for long contracts, that can also be problematic. Both parties have to understand the other’s needs.”

The new instruction on FDCs will be composed of ten articles.

According to the new legislation, FDCs must be put in writing and have clear start and finish dates.

Contracts can last up to two years. If employers end the contract early, they will be required to pay workers a termination allowance.

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