Unions Ask Government to Drop Fines From Draft Wage Law

Unions made a formal request to the Labor Ministry on Friday to remove several articles in a draft minimum wage law that would impose financial penalties for conducting independent research and other actions they believe to be constitutionally protected.

The law would establish a system for setting a minimum wage for all private sector workers on a regular basis.

But provisions that would impose fines of up to 10 million riel, or about $2,500, for conducting wage-related research without the government’s approval or for promoting opposition to whatever wage the government sets violate the constitutional right to the freedom of expression, according to some unions.

They asked the government to remove the proposed fines at a meeting with the Labor Ministry on Friday.

“It violates our rights,” Workers Friendship Union Federation president Sieng Sambath, who attended the closed-door meeting, said on Sunday.

“They want to restrict us. They want to stop us from demonstrating next time.”

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour declined to comment on the law or meeting. Unions said another meeting with the ministry to discuss the draft was expected next month.

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