Unions Worry About Changes To Labor Law

Local labor unions and federations are worried that proposed amendments to the Labor Law will benefit employers and set back the cause of workers’ rights, labor representatives said Mon­day.

Among the most controversial as­pects of the proposed revisions are reducing overtime and nightshift pay from double the hourly wage salary to just 130 percent.

Workers and government officials are scheduled to meet to discuss the proposed changes next month and then again in Nov­em­ber, said International Labor Or­ga­n­ization national project manager Nuon Rithy.

The entire amendment process will take about 10 months, he said.

“We are worried that the em­ployers will reduce the benefits of the workers,” said Chhorn Sok­ha, deputy president of the Co­a­li­tion of Cambodian Apparel Wor­kers Dem­o­cratic Union.

“We must fight the government with words,” she said, ad­ding that there was no reason to change the law, except perhaps to enforce it more strictly.

“Most of the existing law is al­ready good, but it lacks implementation,” she said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, concurred.

He said the current law already benefits both workers and em­ployers and that the new amendments might roll back hard-won workers’ rights.

“I am worried that the new law will walk behind the old law,” he said. “I am worried that employers will have more advantages.”

Chea Mony said what he would like to see amended is the minimum age for union leaders.

The current law states that a union leader must be 25 to be a candidate. He would like to see that reduced to 18.

Cheat Khemara, a senior consultant to the Garment Manu­fac­turers Association of Cam­bo­dia, de­fended the proposed amend­ments, saying current laws discourage foreign in­vestment and that a cut in the overtime rate would boost employment.

“We have to find better ways than neighboring countries,” he said, referring to Vietnam. “This can increase the number of jobs,” he said of the proposal to cut the current 200 percent overtime pay to 130 percent of the hourly wage.


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