Ministry Hits Back Over Union Law

The Ministry of Labor issued a statement Friday claiming that the controversial draft Trade Union Law is aimed at protecting the rights of workers, after unions announced they would write to the ministry, the National Assembly and the European Union next week calling for the law be scrapped completely.

The Ministry of Labor’s statement claims that the draft law has been created in the interest of workers and aims to guarantee freedom of professional organizations. 

“We have held seven workshops and all the ideas of stakeholders have been put into the context of the draft law, among [the discussions] were unions who are opposing this law,” the statement says.

“This law is intended to prevent some small people who have ill intentions to continue using workers…in Cambodia to serve the interests of themselves and their group without thinking about workers’ interest,” it says.

However, a letter signed by seven unions on Thursday that will be sent to the Labor Ministry, National Assembly and the E.U. on Monday calls for the law to be scrapped, claiming that the draft does not “show protection and promotion for the freedom and interest of workers.”

A draft of the law was released last year and received a highly critical review from the ILO, which claimed it fell short of the government’s international obligations to workers.

Among the most contentious parts are a provision that allows the courts the ability to revoke union licenses and a rule that ensures unions must get 20 percent of workers employed at an enterprise to become members before registering with the Labor Ministry.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers who attended one of the ministry’s seven meetings to discuss the law, raised concerns about its implications.

“We gave some ideas and asked for some changes but we have not seen anything or received a response from the ministry and we heard there is very little change,” said Mr. Sina.

“We demand the government stop this law because it will put workers and our unions in danger because it restricts our freedom,” he added.

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