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Justice Ministry to Join Committee to Settle Strikes

Khmer Times Share:
Free Trade Union president Chea Mony convinced the Committee for the Settlement of Strikes and Demonstrations to include Justice Ministry officials. KT/ Mai Vireak

Officials at the Ministry of Justice will join members of the Labor Ministry, local authorities, police and provincial governors on the Committee for the Settlement of Strikes and Demonstrations after a union leader requested they be included.
 
Labor Minister Ith Samheng said the move to add Ministry of Justice officials to the committee came in response to Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony.
 
“I want to tell you that the ministry agreed to approve the request,” Mr. Samheng’s letter said.
 
Mr. Mony penned his request in a letter in late April, in which he said Justice Ministry officials could improve the committee’s efficiency in resolving strikes and advise the committee on court procedures.
 
“Some companies sued the court or used the court to arrest workers or union officials involved in strikes or demonstrations. This committee found it difficult to find resolutions and release workers or union leaders who were arrested because it does not have the powers to.
 
“This is why we need the members from the Justice Ministry,” Mr. Mony told Khmer Times yesterday.
 
He added that while his request seemed to be heard, the new appointments may very well be cosmetic and based on lip-service.
 
“I have never believed in or trusted almost every government institution, but I made the request because I wanted to tell them that if they want to cheat or lie to others they will at least have to make workers and unions believe in their committee,” Mr. Mony said.
 
The garment industry in Cambodia has been plagued with strikes over workers’ pay, forced overtime and complaints of anti-union practices by factories. In 2014, dozens of people were put on trial when labor protests turned violent.
 
Vong Sovann, the committee’s deputy secretary general, said yesterday that he had heard of the move to appoint members of the Justice Ministry, but did not yet have details about possible candidates.
 
The move comes on the heels of a scathing report released by Asia Floor Wage Alliance depicting widespread labor rights abuses in factories in Phnom Penh supplying H&M stores internationally.
 
One of the many criticisms is the use of short-term contracts, which allow factory owners to fire workers with ease. The report says the shorter contracts are also used to threaten workers against joining unions, and many people who have already been fired in similar scenarios said there was no way to dispute the firings or fight back.

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