Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on garment factory owners to reduce the use of short-term employment contracts.
Speaking to more than 15,000 workers and employers representing 10 factories in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district, Mr Hun Sen said short-term contracts threaten the health of employees.
“When contracts are only for three months, the workers worry and are concerned about whether the factory will continue to employ them or not,” he said. “We have to find a resolution to this problem.
“I visited workers in Takeo province’s Bati district. They told me they were worried about always being on short-term contracts.”
The Prime Minister suggested that workers should be given longer contracts after serving three months’ probation.
“My visits are teaching me about the challenges facing our workers,” he said. “I want to appeal to all factories, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, and the Labour Ministry to work together to address this issue.”
Chhorn Sokha, from Labour rights group Central, welcomed Mr Hun Sen’s proposals.
“I congratulate the Prime Minister for attempting to deal with the issue of short-term contracts for workers, but I worry about implementation,” she said. “Unless there is some kind of official government directive, little is likely to change.”
Ms Sokha added that most factories had used short-term contracts since 2002.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, agreed it was a good sign that Mr Hun Sen had raised the issue, since unions had often brought it up with the Labour Ministry.
“Using short-term contracts abuses the rights of workers,” he said, adding that employers should heed the Prime Minister’s words.
GMAC deputy secretary general Kaing Monika said the employment contract issue is in the hands of the Labour Ministry, adding he believed officials would come up with a compromise for all involved.
“I hope it’s a solution that is acceptable to both parties” he said.