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Labour rights groups brief US ambassador over rights situation

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Leaders of labour rights groups meet with US Ambassador Patrick Murphy, second from right, to discuss labour rights in the Kingdom. Twitter

A group of labour rights NGOs on Tuesday met with US Ambassador Patrick Murphy to highlight improvements to the Kingdom’s laws and challenges workers still face.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, yesterday said the groups stated their concerns over the Trade Union Law, noting that the law did not fully promote workers’ rights and ensure union freedom.

The National Assembly on Tuesday amended ten articles of the law in a bid to protect workers’ rights and improve union freedom, but Mr Tola and other unionists say the effort fell short.

“We have the same opinion over the problem on the rights to form unions and the right to collective bargaining,” Mr Tola said. “A unionist can no longer represent workers when there is a labour dispute.”

“The amendments did not fully respond to and reflect the main issues that concerned stakeholders,” he added.

Mr Tola noted that the group also informed Mr Murphy of minor improvements made by the government over the past few months as the European Commission reviews the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms trade status.

“We have seen improvements in laws regarding opposition leaders and activists released from jail, but these cases are still pending. Garment workers were given higher salaries, but their working conditions are not much improved,” he said.

William Conklin, country director of the US-based Solidarity Centre, yesterday said the groups believe that there were other issues that needed to be addressed in the amendments.

“As you know, unions had given a list of requests, the changes that they wanted to see, but many of those were not addressed,” he said.

Mr Conklin said the meeting also touched on various other issues, including the extended Better Factories Cambodia programme, how to ensure that the labour law is complied with and that labour rights are protected in the new travel goods sector.

Mr Murphy tweeted on Tuesday that he met representatives of Better Factories Cambodia, the Solidarity Center, AC Cambodia and Central to discuss ways to ensure workers’ rights and good labour conditions in the Kingdom.

US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg declined to comment.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday said it is inevitable that some labour rights NGOs will express disappointment and concerns.

“We have to work together and explain things to each other. It is as common as in some countries that some laws require a lifetime to explain. The dialogue is essential and the ministry will continue to work with all parties,” he said.

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