Gov’t Mum on Union Claims

Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Veteran Affairs officials on Tuesday declined to comment on allegations made by a US labor union that Cambodian workers’ rights are being violated, while a US Embassy official said they are “looking” into the complaint.

The American Federation of La­bor and Congress of Industrial Or­ganizations filed a complaint June 15 with the US Trade Repre­sentative Charlene Barshefsky, calling for the US to revoke a special trade privilege from Cambo­dia because the government has allegedly undermined independent unions.

It also accused the Social Af­fairs Ministry of showing bias toward CPP-linked unions, and cited examples of interference with independent or opposition-affiliated unions during collective bargaining with factory owners.

Social Affairs Minister Suy Sem was unavailable for comment Tues­day. Officials in the Minis­try’s labor inspection de­part­ment and Ministry Cabinet members also declined to comment.

A US Embassy representative said officials were looking at documents received from Wash­ington, but did not elaborate.

For Cambodian-American bu­sinessman Ted Ngoy, who lobbied for Cambodia to get Gene­ralized Sy­stem of Preferences status, the news came as a personal blow: “I worked too hard to get this status granted for the Cam­bo­dian people. I spent one year, hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for GSP. I feel hurt.”

He pleaded for the US government to give Cambodia more time to solve its labor problems.   GSP gives 6,200 products duty-free status and is reviewed yearly by Washington. The trade status was awarded to Cambodia in 1997.








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