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Law to Build Confidence

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Cambodia’s garment workers would be bound by the new union law that will curtail wildcat strikes. KT/Mai Vireak

The controversial Union Law, which was passed and put into force after dozens of debates and protests, is expected to build confidence among garment and textile buyers as well as employers and workers, experts said.
 
Sandra D’Amico, vice president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations, told Khmer Times yesterday the law will help build better relations in Cambodia’s factories because it will force employers and unionists to be more responsible.
 
“I think it is going to help employers and unions to engage more at the work place and that is very important because I think the lack of engagement in the workplace is one of the big challenges with labor disputes,” Ms. D’Amico said.
 
The newly passed Union Law was welcomed by employers in Cambodia’s garment sector, Ms. D’Amico said. “I think from the investors’ perspective, it is going to bring more stability to the industrial relations environment, which should be a very good thing.”
 
The Union Law was passed by royal decree on May 17 after the National Assembly passed it in early April after many union members were injured during strikes and protests outside the National Assembly.
 
Ms. D’Amico said she did not see any negative points in the Union Law and its effects on the garment investment environment, and added that it will be positive for investors and improve relations between employers, workers and unions.
 
The law encourages unions to have more representatives and it is also helping unions to be more structured, Ms. D’Amico said.
 
“In the future, when strikes happen, there will be more predictability. And if strikes are predictable you know what is going to happen because people are not resolving issues at the workplace,” she said.
 
Ath Thorn, the president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said the law has already been put in force and now needs to be implemented in line with the law.
 
“It has just been implemented for a few months, so we cannot see any problems with the Union Law,” Mr. Thorn said, adding that it will take time to see how well the new law works.
 
Ms. D’Amico said employers, unions and the government should find ways to implement and build the capacity of employers and unions effectively.
 
“Now we have the law and we must move to implement and make the best of what we have.”
 
Ith Samheng, the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, made an official announcement in late June, calling on unions and registered employers to fulfil the law’s requirements and implement it effectively.
 
Mr. Samheng said complying with the law would ensure legal protection and benefits and ensure the freedom of collective negotiations between employees and employers, as well as to increase productivity and investment and generate jobs for people.

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