Lawmakers to Hold Workshop on Draft Union Law

Lawmakers on the National Assembly’s labor commission will hold a public workshop on Wednesday to gather more input from unions and employers on a controversial draft union law before it gets worked over one more time and put to a vote in Parliament.

The law would set new rules for forming, dissolving and running a union and has drawn strong rebuke from employee and employer groups alike. The International Labor Organization says multiple drafts have also fallen short of Cambodia’s international obligations.

On Sunday, National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said he expected up to 400 union and employer representatives to attend Wednesday’s workshop and take the opportunity to share their thoughts and question the lawmakers.

“The commission will be able to collect comments for its discussions with the government. Then it will write a letter to include the draft law at a full [Assembly] session for review and passage,” he said.

A group of 21 unions and labor organizations, however, sent the National Assembly an open letter on Sunday to complain they were only being allotted a half hour to speak.

“So the group of unions and civil society organizations think that the consultative workshop is meaningless,” the letter said. “We request the National Assembly…to provide enough time for unions to comment on the draft union law comprehensively and to accept the requests and include them in the draft law.”

Employers in the garment industry, which hosts the bulk of the country’s unions, say the draft as currently written would make it too easy to form a union and too difficult for them to negotiate effective agreements with their employees. Unions say the draft makes it too hard to form a union and too easy for the government to break them up.

In December and January, the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP, which sides with the unions on the proposed law, formed an ad hoc committee to hash out their differences over the draft but agreed on only some points.

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