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Decline in labor complaints compared with last year

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Workers stage a protest but the number of garment complaints has declined. KT/Mai Vireak

Labor dispute complaints in the garment and textile sector declined last year compared with 2015, according to the Arbitration Council, which attributed the drop to the Trade Union Law.
In a conference on improving labor dispute resolutions in Phnom Penh yesterday, Chhiv Phyrum, an arbitrator and chairperson of the Arbitration Council Foundation’s board of directors, said the council had received fewer complaints over the past few years.
There were 365 cases in 2015, about 330 cases in 2016 and the figure could decrease further in 2017, she added, based on the number of complaints received so far this year.
“The decline in 2017 is due to a change of legislation. We have a law relating to the unions which made the number of labor dispute complaints to the Arbitration Council decrease as well. This is the main reason,” she said. 
She added that the union law did not limit the freedom of unions to act or file a complaint, but only changed the amount of representation required to file a complaint.
“Before, registered unions could come to submit their complaint at the Arbitration Council,” she said.
“But now, the unions taking their case to the Arbitration Council must have representation. Their representation has been decreased to only 30 percent while in the past they required 50 percent plus one.” 
The Arbitration Council was established in 2003 and has its headquarters in Phnom Penh. According to Ms. Phyrum, the institution is studying the expansion of its services to the provinces.
Pav Sina, the president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said labor dispute complaints to the Arbitration Council decreased after the union law was passed, but there was actually a rise in the number of disputes. 
He said disputes occurred more than before but the union law restricted the rights of unions and workers, making it difficult to file complaints when there are rights violations. Some complaints are kept at the Labor Ministry, he added.
“When we can’t send the case to the Arbitration Council, it means that our dispute was blocked or the procedures don’t work. It affects workers who are looking forward to see the result of their conflict,” he said. 
US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt said that in the recent years, the government has taken positive steps to improve vocational relations and create a good atmosphere for outside investors by adopting and reforming laws. 
However, he urged the government and relevant parties to continue discussions on law reforms, especially the draft law on labor dispute resolution and the draft minimum wage law, to strengthen and improve labor dispute resolution mechanisms.
Labor Ministry secretary of state Mam Vann said in the conference yesterday that the Arbitration Council has greatly contributed to the improvement of vocational relations for employers, workers and the national economy.
It also provided fairness through the conciliation of nearly 2,000 labor dispute complaints, equivalent to more than 75 percent of the 2,650 complaints it has processed since its creation, he added. 
However, the institution is greatly concerned about its sustainability as it receives financial support from donors and international organizations. 
Mr. Vann called on relevant parties, other countries and especially employers, unions and workers to join with the ministry in providing financial support to the Arbitration Council.

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