The Ministry of Labour yesterday said it was determined to quickly solve all labour disputes in order to continue decreasing the number of strikes and protests.
At an annual meeting yesterday, the ministry released a report about its work in 2017, noting that it was able to decrease the number of strikes and protests compared with the previous year.
“The ministry will try its best to solve labour disputes with effectiveness and also try to prevent the holding of illegal strikes and demonstrations in order to assure harmony,” the report said.
According to the report, in 2017 there were 97 cases of strikes at 97 factories, a decrease of 55.9 percent compared with 2016 when there were 220 strikes.
The report added that the number of demonstrations in 2017 also decreased when compared with 2016, to 89 from the 212 cases in 2016.
“Labour disputes, illegal strikes and demonstrations were reduced a lot in 2017, even though I still see some ignorant people inciting workers to protest, but the workers refused to do so,” said Labour Minister Ith Samheng at the meeting.
Mr Samheng said that workers now understand that it is better to resolve problems through mediation rather than take to the streets.
“It is useless for workers to destroy their rice pot,” said Mr Samheng. “But one thing that we must improve is stopping owners of factories from fleeing without paying workers when they go bankrupt.”
The ministry plans to draft regulations on resolving such cases, he noted.
“We will create the procedure to prevent this issue from happening again or we may ask the factory owners to pay seniority bonus to workers every year,” said Mr Samheng.
Mr Samheng added that he has ordered his officials to solve the issue for workers at nine factories where their employers fled without paying wages.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier that the government was prepared to pay about $4.6 million to 4,146 workers whose bosses recently ran away, meaning each worker would get about $1,000.
Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, said that strikes and demonstrations have decreased not because of speedier resolutions, but because unions face too much pressure and fear being beaten by authorities.
“For me, I do not dare to lead a big strike or protest as I used to do before anymore, especially with the national election coming soon,” he said. “If we do not have a choice, we will do a small strike at the factory, but we will not do a big protest outside or at the ministry like before.”