Labor Dispute Court in Works

The government is planning to create a labor court that would mediate or rule on worker-em­ployer disputes and other labor issues, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.

Oum Mean, director-general for the ministry’s labor and vocational training department, said the ministry has studied labor court systems in other Asian countries and soon will start drafting a labor court law with assistance from the Inter­national Labor Organization.

“Our country is becoming democratic and peaceful. As a member of the ILO, we want the country to respect international standards,” said Oum Mean, noting that a labor court is critical to that effort.

Judges who are familiar with the labor code will be appointed to preside over the court, officials said.

The ministry has sent staff to Thailand and the Philippines to research their systems and has sought advice from foreign and domestic lawmakers.

The ILO pledged to provide technical assistance, experts and funds for the project, officials said.

According to the ministry, hundreds of labor disputes are brought to the ministry’s inspection department every year and most are settled with the help of mediation by a department in­spec­t­or.

“If there is a labor court, the solution would be more fair for both workers and employers,” said In Khemara, deputy director of the inspection department. “Only the labor court could have enough power to judge who is wrong and who is right.”

Seng Phally, executive director for the Cambodia Labor Organi­za­tion, which petitioned the government to form a labor court two years ago, said that a specialized court might help solve labor disputes more smoothly.

Local courts lack that depth of knowledge of the labor code, he added.

“I don’t think it could dramatically change the labor conditions, but it’s probably better than nothing,” he said.

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