Concerns regarding factory workers’ well-being were brought up by unions yesterday during a seminar attended by government officials and NGOs to address employment security and constructive industrial relations.
During the seminar, unions brought up issues of short-term contracts, laws preventing employers from fleeing and the potential loss of Cambodia’s Everything-but-arms status with the European Union.
Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn said that industrial relations between workers and employers have improved.
However, he said employment security has not yet improved as more factories are using short-term contracts to recruite workers, while discrimination and lack of regard for labour rights remain rampant.
“If we look at the standards of the International Labour Organisation, the European Union and the United States, long-term jobs mean life-long security,” Mr Thorn said.
The Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said yesterday that tension with the EU and the US over last month’s national election could pressure the job market.
Mr Chhun noted that the US could revoke Cambodia’s Generalised System of Preference status.
“These days we are also concerned with the social and political situation that made EU countries, the US and Japan hold back their support,” he said. “Unions are worried about the withdrawal of the GSP. We know that Cambodia saves about $700 million per year exporting clothes to the EU, Japan and the US. If they withdraw the GSP status, it would definitely affect employment security in Cambodia.”
Mam Vannak, a secretary of state at the Labour Ministry, said the government is working on employment security and working conditions.
“The ministry has been continuing to work hard to improve working conditions, especially by improving hygiene conditions and work safety,” Mr Vannak said, noting that unions must also play their part.
In July, the EU said it was considering the removal of Cambodia from its EBA trade scheme due to political and human rights issues.