Advisory Council To Strengthen Labor Law

In an effort to strengthen implementation of the labor law, the government plans to establish an advisory committee to enhance dialogue among government officials, employers and workers.

Thach Sem, adviser to Labor Min­ister Ith Sam Heng, announc­ed last week at an International Labor Organization workshop that the ministry will form the Labor Advisory Council later this month. The advisory council is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The 20-member council, headed by Ith Sam Heng, will consist of representatives from manufacturers, five unions, and 10 ministries, including the Ministries of Wo­men’s Affairs, Industry, and Commerce.

Its goal will be to find solutions to major labor issues, said Oum Mean, director general for the ministry’s labor and vocational training bureau. Human rights abus­es and labor law violations still are reported frequently here, visiting ILO officials said during the workshop.

Thach Sem said 123 individual labor and 44 collective disputes and 33 strikes were reported during the first half of this year.

Offic­ials acknowledged that such a body is urgent­ly needed. Establishing the advisory council is stipulated in the 1997 labor law and a recently issued a sub-de­cree. Oum Mean said more de­tailed council responsibilities will be designated. Labor advocates applauded the initiative.

“We’re happy that they include us in the council as a legitimate representative to serve for workers’ interests,” said Katja Hem­mer­ich, adviser to Free Trade Union of Workers of the King­dom of Cambodia. “It is a great idea to have open forums on labor issues.”

Noun Rithy, ILO’s national project coordinator and an observer for the council, said: “It would be a great chance for representatives of five different federation unions to work together to solve common labor issues.”

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