By Yuko MaedaDespite the country’s recent adoption of a complete set of international labor standards, the International Labor Organization continued to urge Cambodia to improve labor rights and administration at a workshop Tuesday.
In addition to the 1969 ratification of a convention on forced labor, Cambodia in July ratified the UN labor body’s other six core conventions on the freedom of association, collective bargaining, equal remuneration, discrimination in employment, abolition of forced labor and the elimination of child labor.
But government officials acknowledge a mechanism has to be put in place to enforce the conventions and have established a Labor Advisory Council to deal with labor issues, according to Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor adviser Thach Sem.
“For Cambodia, [July’s ratification] is a landmark, a new starting point to the effective protection and full respect of the fundamental rights at work,” Siwu Liu, a senior officer at the ILO’s office in Bangkok, said in his opening speech at the workshop. “However, ratification alone does not necessarily imply effective application of these fundamental conventions,” he said, urging government, employers and workers together to understand the international labor standards and try to reach those goals in practice. He noted there have been frequent reports of labor-rights violations although the government has taken measures to improve the working conditions.
Cambodia became the second country in Asia following Indonesia—and the 48th of the ILO’s 174 member states—to have ratified all seven core conventions.
The US and the Cambodian government earlier this year reached an agreement tying labor conditions to export quotas for garments.