Unions & brands press Cambodia over union law
A global union campaign to ensure fair labour laws in Cambodia has won the support of multinational brands and NGOs. IndustriALL and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) are supporting Cambodian unions who are seeking urgent changes to the labour law currently being finalised. And the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which brings the global unions and the TUC together with worker rights NGOs and the main UK and western brands sourcing from Cambodia’s garment industry, has backed the campaign.
Following years of industrial unrest in the Cambodian garment industry – a key part of the South East Asian country’s export industry – the Government has brought forward a new labour law. The current draft, though, is unacceptable for several reasons:
- it restricts the right to strike, making it difficult for unions representing the garment sector’s mostly female workforce to defend their interests or raise their wages;
- it makes it difficult for new unions to operate, and restricts the rights of certain workers to join a union, hampering the workforce’s right to freedom of association; and
- it creates a punitive regime for trade unions, making it easy to dissolve unions and interfere in their financing while capping fines for employer abuses at levels so low they will have no deterrent effect.
Unions and the ETI have made it clear they are willing to engage constructively to modernise industrial relations and the economic context facing Cambodia’s garment sector, but only in the context of laws that comply with ILO core labour conventions.