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Workers’ rights groups hand over petition to government, business groups

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Ou Tep Phallin speaks at the press conference yesterday. KT/Mom Kunthear

Unions, associations and civil society organisations have handed over a petition to the government and the private sector requesting solutions on 11 priority issues aimed to protect the rights of workers.

The petition, which focuses on the promotion of human rights and labour rights, was handed over to seven ministries and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday.

Ou Tep Phallin, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, said at a press conference yesterday that the seven ministries included the women’s affairs, labour, health, interior, foreign affairs, land management and tourism ministries.

The Council of Ministers and the Justice Ministry refused the petition, she noted. Ms Phallin added that they also sent the petition to business groups.

“We requested that the institutions continue its efforts to respond to the needs and requirements of workers in order to eliminate all forms of gender based violence, sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and modern slavery in enterprises, and adopt a policy and national strategy plan on achieving gender equality and reducing poverty in Cambodia,” Ms Phallin said.

She said that solving the problems noted in the petition would help citizens in the Kingdom. She added that the move would also correspond to the government’s national strategy on protecting vulnerable people.

Sok Kin, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, yesterday said that garment and footwear sectors, along with construction workers, make up a large portion of the labour market in the country.

However, he noted that their working conditions are still poor.

“According to our survey, the wage for construction workers are still low and the danger levels at work are still high,” Mr Kin said.

He noted that the government and the private sector need to improve working conditions and set a minimum wage for construction workers.

The petition outlined 11 priority issues concerning workers, including the provision of nurseries in the workplace, establishing a one-stop service centre for victims of domestic violence, provide social protection for street vendors and workers in the informal economy, as well as setting a minimum wage for various sectors.

Ms Phallin noted that it would not be easy to find a solution or to receive a response from the government. However, she said workers cannot stay quiet because otherwise the government would not know the problems they face.

“We will have another strategy if our problems cannot not be solved, but I cannot tell you what we are going to do yet,” Ms Phallin noted.

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