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Union Law amended

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
garment workers
The National Assembly approved amendments to ten articles yesterday to improve union freedom and workers’ rights. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Assembly yesterday unanimously passed amendments to the Trade Union Law to promote workers’ rights and ensure union freedom.

The Trade Union Law became effective in 2016, but unions decried some articles, saying they restricted union freedom. CPP lawmakers voted in favour of amendments to ten articles yesterday that were highlighted by unionists in previous meetings with government officials.

Lork Kheng, chairwoman of the National Assembly’s commission on Healthcare, Social and Veteran’s Affairs and Women Affairs, yesterday said that the amendments will ensure freedom of unions and also attract investment.

“It shows that the government is committed to promoting labour rights for workers in line with international standards,” Ms Kheng said. “These amendments were supported by all development partners in Cambodia.”

Labour Minister Ith Samheng yesterday said that the amendments gave more freedom to workers and unions.

“Unions are no longer required to make and submit a copy of activity and finances to the Labour Ministry, but the ministry has an obligation to demand those reports if requested by union members or donors,” Mr Samheng said during the plenary session.

Speaking to reporters after the session, Mr Samheng said that the amendments have improved the Trade Union Law.

Ith Samheng
Labour Minister Ith Samheng speaks at the National Assembly yesterday. National Assembly

“The amendments were made based on requests by relevant parties. The requests were not only made by unions, but also by other parties. So we cannot satisfy all parties. I can say that these amendments make the law better.”

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, yesterday expressed his disappointment over the amendments because some articles of the law remain restrictive to workers’ right and union freedoms, in his opinion.

“Little improvement has been made because the ten amended articles are still not good enough for our unions,” Mr Thorn said.

He said that a requested audit of activity and financial reports will result in interference.

“This will result in interference by a company representative or a unionist because each member has the right to request for financial reports to be audited,” he said.

He said that articles 54, 55 and 59 in the old law stated that unions have the right to be a representative of the workers to solve labour disputes, but an amendment stipulates that a unionist cannot represent workers.

“The amendment states that we cannot be a representative of the workers to solve disputes; we can only accompany them,” Mr Thorn said.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Unions of Movement of Worker, echoed Mr Thorn’s remarks.

“These amendments are not enough and do not aim to protect the interest of workers. They reduce unions’ power because our opinions were excluded,” he said. “These amendments still restrict activities of unions. Union leaders will still face challenges.”

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