Labour Minister Ith Samheng yesterday ordered ministry officials to strictly follow provisions in the Trade Union Law, especially those related to protecting unions, but union leaders have reacted with scepticism.
In a letter dated December 14 and issued by the ministry yesterday, Mr Samheng outlined procedures on registering unions and instructed officials charged with dealing with labour disputes and inspections, especially those in the provinces, to strictly follow the provisions.
“In order to ensure and improve the freedom of vocational organisations in Cambodia, I am requesting all officials in labour departments to follow the Trade Union Law, especially the implementation of procedures to protect union officials and union leaders,” he said.
Mr Samheng said that officials should not require union leaders to provide information on family members or other personal details, including showing their National Social Security Fund card, when they apply to register a union but should give them a grace period of 45 days to do so.
“Local union leaders also need not come to the ministry to register their unions but can do so through the federation of unions or confederation of unions,” he said.
Pav Sina, Collective Union of Movement of Workers president, yesterday said that he had just received a copy of Mr Samheng’s instructions and it really shocked him.
“I am really surprised because the letter is dated December 14 and the Labour Ministry just released it this morning,” he said. “It seems as if the ministry did not intend to publish it.”
Mr Sina said that he welcomed some procedures relating to union registration but noted that labour department officials are not complying with provisions to protect union officials.
“I see that recently factories are firing union leaders but the labour officials involved with disputes are not doing their job by ordering the employers to let these employees come back to work,” he said.
He said that if the ministry wants unions and workers to trust it, it should order all companies which illegally dismiss union leaders to allow them back to work.