Gov’t OKs Arbitration Panel

Twenty-one representatives from the garment industry’s three main parties were approved by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor Monday to steer the country’s first Arbitration Council, a body that, in principle, will en­courage laborers and manufactures to resolve disputes before strained relations disrupt production, labor officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Labor, the Gar­ment Manufacturers Associ­ation of Cambodia and workers unions each appointed seven representatives who were approved by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng after a lengthy selection process supervised by the International Labor Organization, said Thack Som, the minister’s adviser.

“I feel confident that it is a balanced group. There’s a lot of ex­pertise both on arbitration and on the labor law,” said ILO technical adviser Hugo Van Noord.

Experience ranges from law, international relations, conflict resolution and international bank management. And, although 18 arbitrators are Cambodian, the remaining three are Malaysian, Canadian and British.

GMAC President Van Sou Ieng said previously that most of the disputes between factories and unions concern individual, rather than collective,  problems.

Jason Judd, country representative of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said the Council has a lot of work to do.

“There is a long list of collective disputes” that affect all workers, Judd said.

To facilitate the Council’s work, the Ministry of Labor will run a sep­arate secretariat to receive complaints and is­sue correspondence, Van Noord said. Arb­itrators soon will begin a month-long training and will hold their first meeting May 1, he said.

(Ad­ditional reporting by Yun Samean)

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