CPP and opposition lawmakers made modest progress toward reaching consensus on a controversial draft union law on Thursday during their second attempt in as many weeks but still had yet to tackle some of the main concerns many unions have with the proposed legislation.
The law proposes to regulate the way trade unions are formed, run and dissolved, but many unions fear the government will use it to further erode labor rights, especially those of the country’s 700,000 garment workers.
Late last year, as the bill was on the verge of approval by the CPP-dominated National Assembly, the ruling party abruptly agreed to form an ad hoc, bipartisan committee to go through the 100-article draft and negotiate changes.
After Thursday’s closed-door meeting at the Assembly, CPP lawmaker and party spokesman Sok Eysan told reporters that they made it through articles 13 to 24 and agreed on seven.
Among the changes they both agreed to, he said, was an extension of the amount of time unions have to furnish the government with their bank account details after registration from 30 days to 45. He said they also agreed that, in the case of foreign union leaders, the government should have the right to request more information about them at any time, not only “if necessary” as the draft says.
“Sometimes foreigners commit a crime and then come to Cambodia to run a union, so when authorities are suspicious they can ask them [the unions] to provide information,” he said.
Highlighting what the two sides did not agree on, CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay told reporters that the opposition still took issue with a provision that would allow unspecified “relevant parties” to request an audit of any union. He said the law should be specific about who those “relevant parties” are.
The lawmakers plan to reconvene on Tuesday.