Women working in the washing section of a Cambodian garment factory. Photo: ILO/ Livingston Armytage
Unions pressing Cambodia for decent workers’ rights
The TUC is joining Cambodian and global unions to press the Cambodian government to give workers the rights they are due under ILO conventions. And in particular, we want the Cambodian government to consult with national trade unions – as they clearly have with reactionary local employers. Cambodia is a major flashpoint for concerns about global garment goods supply chains, and there have been clashes over minimum wages in the last few years.
The Cambodian government, under considerable pressure from unions at home and abroad, campaigning NGOs and global brands, has issued a trade union law which is currently before Parliament. It does contain some improvements on the existing legal framework, but it has not been the subject of proper consultation with unions, and it contains several measures which would restrict freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.
Earlier this month, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady wrote to the Cambodian ambassador in London, saying:
“We believe that the legislation and enactment of the Trade Union Law is a good opportunity for the Cambodian government and employers to rebuild international and domestic confidence in the country’s industrial relations. To do so the law should be grounded on the core principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining.”
And Jyrki Raina, head of the global manufacturing union IndustriALL, who took his global executive to Phnom Penh to show solidarity with Cambodian unions last week, said:
“The current demands by unions in Cambodia reflect the workers’ frustration with the brands, as well as the lack of response from government and employers to the unions’ 13 demands. Workers are saying that brands sourcing from the country must guarantee a living wage.”
The demands made by Cambodian unions mostly cover planned interference in internal union affairs, but also address the involvement of courts in industrial relations, and the functioning of unions at company level.