CPP, CNRP Set Meeting on Draft Union Law

Lawmakers from the CPP and CNRP will convene on Tuesday for the first meeting of a new, ad hoc committee formed to hash out their differences over a controversial draft union law.

The National Assembly announced the creation of the committee on December 11, delaying indefinitely a workshop on the draft law that the parliament’s legislative commission was scheduled to host only a few days later.

The move came after several prominent unions and labor rights groups complained that the latest draft of the law, which reached the Assembly in November, remained deeply flawed.

On Sunday, both parties said they would attend the first meeting of the committee on Tuesday.

“We will have an internal meeting on Tuesday afternoon with the CNRP and the Ministry of Labor to review some points that unions want to remove or change in the draft,” CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said.

CNRP lawmaker Ke Sovannaroth, who chairs the Assembly’s labor commission, confirmed that she and other opposition members would attend Tuesday’s meeting. She added that opposition lawmakers would first meet with union leaders.

“Tomorrow [Monday], the CNRP will have a meeting to see what the stance of the unions is. Then we will use that to talk with the CPP on Tuesday,” she said. “We will support the unions.”

The law would set new rules for establishing and running trade unions. Though it would apply to most sectors of the economy, its primary target is the large but unruly garment industry, which employs some 700,000 Cambodians and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports.

In July, the Labor Ministry made a number of concessions to unions by setting the threshold for forming a local union at just 10 people and making changes to other controversial articles. But some unions fear that the current draft will still give the government undue powers to shut them down.

Factories, however, maintain the multiplicity of unions makes bargaining with them nearly impossible and say the proposed 10-person threshold for forming a union is far too low.

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