5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Cambodia

The ITUC affiliates in Cambodia are the Cambodia Confederation of Trade Unions (CCTU), the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) and the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC).

In practice

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Labour Minister threatens unions31-08-2016

Speaking at a workshop on the registration of trade unions and employer associations on 31 August 2016, Labour Minister Ith Samheng threatened any striking workers with arrest, claiming the ministry’s officials have to pay more attention to “the law” and stop the “impunity” with which unions operated. He said that officials in all units of his ministry across the country had to make more of an effort to take legal action against workers who strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
or demonstrate.

“I would like to say that from now on, all units and institutions should know that in all cases of demonstrations and strikes, even though the announcement is being made today, they must continue to review the procedures of the law and whether it [protests] are done legally or illegally,” he said.

Most of his speech revolved around his belief in the need for tougher legal measures to be used against striking workers or unions. Unions who strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
without consulting all of the workers in their union will be punished through the courts, he said. Union leaders especially will be punished if their organisations violate any stipulations of the labour law, he warned.

He went on to claim that the harsh measures were for the good of the country, stressing the need for respect of “rule of law.”

Police injure protestors demonstrating against trade union law04-04-2016

Security forces injured at least one union official as they violently broke up a demonstration by opponents of the controversial new Trade Union Law on 4 April 2016 as it was being debated in the parliament.

Security guards were brought in to disperse unionised workers protesting against the controversial draft trade union law.

Trade union members, human rights organisations and workers’ rights groups were pushed, shoved and in some instances beaten by the security guards after the demonstrators started chanting slogans against the draft law as it was due to be voted in the National Assembly.

Yang Sophorn, prominent union leader and president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, was one of the protesters shoved to the ground during the scuffle, while Suth Chet, a member of Collective Union of Movement of Workers, was punched in the face by one guard while being restrained by several others, and sustained an injury to his left eye.

Nay Vanda, the deputy head for monitoring at human rights group Adhoc, also present at the protest, was highly critical of the security guards actions, and testified to the peaceful nature of the protests.

New anti-union law passed04-04-2016

The Cambodian parliament approved a controversial new Trade Union Law on 4 April 2016 in the face of repeated objections by trade unions, human rights organisations, the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
and several global garment brands. None of the requested alterations made by unions were incorporated into the final text. The new law will among other things impose new limits on the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, facilitate government intervention in internal union affairs and permit third parties to seek the dissolution of trade unions. At the same time the maximum sanctions against employers for unfair labour practices are so low as to be worthless (at USD 1,250).

The ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
in Cambodia, which helped the government to draft the trade union law between 2014 and 2015, released a statement on 4 April 2016 after the law was adopted by the parliament, saying: “...on numerous occasions the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
drew the government’s attention to several key concerns and gaps. These are mainly related to insufficient protection of the right of all workers and employers to freely set up organisations of their own choosing, and of the right of these organisations to decide on their internal matters without interference, as part of Cambodia’s obligations under ratified ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Conventions.”

Sacked for forming a union03-01-2017

Sinosky Hejun Garment Co Ltd sacked Kim Chetra for forming a union at the factory at the end of December 2016, said Mom Seak, president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit (KUFWS). Kim Chetra had been very active in supporting workers who had faced problems at work, and wanted to form a union to help improve conditions at the Chinese-owned garment factory, located in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district. Over 100 of his colleagues stopped work for four hours on 3 January 2017 to call for his reinstatement.

Dismissed for asking for better working conditions30-07-2016

At the end of July 2016 workers from the Dongdu Textile factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district sacked nearly 800 employees who had been protesting for over a month to demand better working conditions. The matter was taken to the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council, which ordered the company to reinstate the workers, but Dongdu ignored those instructions. A new protest was staged, this time outside the Labour Ministry, in a bid to get their case taken seriously. Workers handed a petition to a Labour Ministry official who told them that their protest was illegal and ordered them to leave. Workers refused saying they had already been fired and did not fear arrest.

The Labour Ministry later said it would invite the company management, workers and representatives of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) to a meeting to resolve the issue.

Two garment union leaders sentenced on trumped up charges19-02-2016

Two union leaders went on trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 5 February 2016 for allegedly destroying company property during strikes by more than 2,000 garment workers at Evergreen Industrial Co. Ltd in 2011 and 2012. The factory in Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone employs about 2,500 workers and makes jeans for Old Navy and Dockers, among others.

Chum Sophea, 32, head of the Coalition of the Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union at the factory, and the union’s secretary general, Chum Pheakdey, 34, were charged with “intentionally causing damage” to property. If found guilty they face between six months and two years in jail.

The lawsuit was filed by Peng Keng Kong, executive director at the company, who demanded strong penalties for the leaders of the strikes, claiming they had incited workers to enter the property and cause serious damage. Mr Sophea and Mr Pheakdey said the charge against them was false. There was no protest in 2011, while the weeklong protest in June 2012 was non-violent, they said.
“The protests were conducted by garment worker themselves who were demanding that the company comply with Cambodian labour law. We did not incite them to damage the factory’s property,” Mr Sophea told the court. “There were no acts of violence and there was no damage to any company property.
On 19 February 2016 both men were given six-month suspended sentences and ordered to pay fines and damages. They said they would appeal.

Two protesting bus drivers arrested and many injured06-02-2016

Two bus drivers were arrested and 14 people were injured during a violent attack outside the Capitol Bus Company on 6 February 2016. The bus drivers had been taking part in a lengthy protest against the dismissal in 2015 of 45 employees who had attempted to form a union, a branch of the Cambodian Transport Workers Federation (CTWF), in the hope of improving their extremely poor working conditions.

Video footage shows members of the employer-backed Cambodia for Confederation Development Association (CCDA), clothed in black and wearing helmets, rushing at the CTWF protestors and violently beating them with sticks, metal bars and hammers. The incident left at least 14 people injured, including protesting bus drivers and their supporters, one human rights monitor and one police officer. One individual suffered an arm fracture while many others had facial injuries from blows to the head.

One of the dismissed Capitol Bus drivers, Nan Vanna, a member of the CTWF, and Cambodia Informal Worker Association (CIWA) official Ruos Siphay were arrested. They were charged with aggravated intentional violence, obstructing public officials and obstructing a public road. None of the people who carried out the beatings were arrested, however.

On the same day, four leaders of leading independent trade unions, including Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC); Sok Chhun Oeung, president of the CIWA; and Cambodian Transport Workers Federation (CTWF) secretary Eang Kim Hun were also charged with the same three offences. The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) noted that none of the four leaders were present during the incident and commented that their prosecution suggested a targeted crackdown on the entire trade union movement. It also pointed out that no effort was made to bring the real perpetrators of the violence to justice.

Union officials arrested after protest at garment factory09-03-2016

Two members of the Free Trade Union (FTU) were arrested by plainclothes police in Kampong Speu province on 1 February 2016 following a protest over anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

. Workers at the Chinese-owned Cerie (Cambodia) garment factory in Samrong Tong district had been protesting for almost a month against the firing of three trade unionists who tried to organise workers at the factory. The Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council had ruled on 15 December 2015 that the three be reinstated, but the ruling was ignored.

The two arrested were Toch Srun, leader of the FTU branch at the factory, and Yung Leap, an FTU official from the national union who had come to help coordinate protests. Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said they were arrested by police officers who had been watching from a car, just after the protest ended. The police officers were in plain clothes, they used an unmarked car, and did not produce arrest warrants. Mrs Leap and Mr Srun were charged with incitement and damaging private property and remanded in custody. Eye witnesses said the protest was not violent, and even the Garment Manufacturers’ Association – an organisation that represents factory owners – said the unionists had followed legal procedures in their protest over the firing.

Toch Srun and Yung Leap were released on bail by the Kompong Speu Provincial Court on 9 March 2016, under court supervision, still facing charges of incitement and intentional violence.

Strikers attacked by security guards01-02-2016

Striking garment workers in Kandal province were attacked by security guards on 1 February 2016. The workers from the Starlight garment factory had been protesting over the recent dismissal of eight employees who were trying to form a union. “A group of security guards from the factory and the 7NG economic zone came over, some holding knives, and violently attacked union officials and workers,” said Sieng Rithy, director of the Cambodian Labour Solidarity Union Federation.

Eight workers and unionists were slightly injured in the ensuing melee, while one worker, Sem Seth, was more seriously hurt, Rithy said.

Striking beer vendors fired21-01-2016

Eleven members of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) employed by Cambrew, a joint venture between local brewers and Carlsberg, were dismissed on 21 January 2016 for taking strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action. The women, whose job was to market and serve Angkor beer in restaurants, had gone on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 16 January in protest at the company’s attempt to impose short-term employment contracts and late working hours.

After two years on the job, workers have a legal right to a permanent contract, which gives paid maternity live and other benefits. Carlsberg/Cambrew refused to comply with the law, however. The company also refused the union’s request for talks on their contracts and escalated the conflict on 15 January by extending working hours to 11:00 p.m., which puts the women at greater risk of harassment from customers and of not finding transport home because of the late hour.

The Labour Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council instructed workers to resume work while awaiting the outcome of a dispute resolution process. However, when the workers returned to work on 21 January, they found that 11 prominent union members had been dismissed. The company denied sacking them, saying they had left voluntarily, but the women say there were photos of their faces posted on walls and that they were blocked by security guards, who told them they had been fired.

Five unionists arrested and several injured during strike 12-01-2016

Five officials from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) were arrested on 12 January 2016 following violent clashes with employer-sponsored thugs at the Agile Sweater factory. The five, named as CUMW’s vice president, Khat Lot; Cham Samnang; Prum Bunthoeun; Mao Moy and An Thona, all from the CUMW office in Phnom Peng, were provisionally charged with intentional violence, inciting people to commit crimes and disrespecting a court order, before being sent to prison to await trial.

They had gone to the factory to support 800 workers who had been on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
since 24 December 2015, demanding improved pay and working conditions. The union members say they were immediately confronted and beaten by ten people representing the employer-controlled union, the Trade Union Workers Federation of Progress Democracy. Five workers suffered injuries to their head and hands. The president of the employer-controlled union also ordered his group of workers to destroy CUMW materials and loud speakers.

The Agile Sweater factory made news back in October 2015 when two of its workers were arrested and charged over their attempts to set up an alternative, independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

inside the factory. They were later released in exchange for an agreement by workers who had stopped work in protest at their arrest to return to their stations.

A week after their arrests, the five CUMW officials were released on bail, pending trial, with the support of the Solidarity Centre legal team in Phnom Penh. In a further twist CUMW president Pav Sina and CUMW official Suth Chet were also summoned to appear in court alongside the original five at the end of February. Suth Chet was among those who had received head injuries.

Union registrations stalled30-04-2014

In April 2014, Human Rights Watch raised concerns that the Cambodian government has sharply limited registrations of unions. Human Rights Watch’s findings are based on official government license registrations since 2011 and interviews with union leaders and representatives.

Independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

federations have raised concerns about a de facto suspension of union registration. This was supported by Labour Ministry data that suggested a dramatic reduction in union registrations in December 2013. Officials could provide no information on new registrations in 2014, but said between 50 and 60 applications were pending. Under Cambodian law, the ability of unions to operate is severely curtailed without official registration.

The slowdown in union registrations may reflect revisions being made to the regulation on union registration, Prakas 21, Human Rights Watch said. Union representatives told Human Rights Watch that ministry officials were not accepting applications for union registration or union leadership changes while registration procedures were being revised. They said the government has not consulted with federations about changes to the regulation.

Recent demands made by government regulators on union federation officials suggest that Cambodia’s Labour Ministry is placing unnecessarily burdensome procedures on union registration and leadership changes. Among these are obtaining a certificate from the Ministry of Justice proving that each union representative has no criminal record, which could be a prolonged process.

Proposed union representatives awaiting this certificate are often at risk of retaliation from factory management, independent unions told Human Rights Watch. Further extending the waiting period increases the risk of harassment and possible firings.

200 workers protest against discrimination against union members08-04-2014

On 8 April 2014, 200 workers at Banjamat Construction Company went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and protested in front of the factory in Kampot province, demanding major pay increases and for fired unionists to be reinstated.

Ty Yann, secretary of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Confederation (BWTUC), said workers were protesting against the company’s discrimination against union members.

Banjamat employees and BWTUC leaders, Chhun Pov and Tep Mao, were fired in November 2010, just one month after forming a union. Yann said the remaining employees had feared similar treatment ever since.

“In fact, the court and Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council ordered K Cement factory to reinstate the workers ... but the company did not agree. It makes other workers fear that the company discriminates against the union,” Yann said.

Six union representatives charged over protest to scare others from organising 06-05-2014

On 6 May 2014, the Kompong Speu Provincial Court charged six union representatives with incitement over a protest near the Wing Star Shoes factory that day, in a move unions say was unjustified and meant to intimidate.

Court prosecutor Keo Sothea said all six were charged with threatening to commit a crime and inciting a felony for allegedly encouraging the factory workers to block a road during their protest for back pay back pay Wages or benefits due an employee for past employment. Often awarded when the employee has been unfairly dismissed. Not to be confused with retroactive pay (delayed payment for work previously done at a lower wage rate). and more benefits.

The men were arrested while setting up loudspeakers for the protest.

Sath Chheang Hour, president of the Cambodia National Confederation for Labor Protection, said all seven were officers in two partner unions. Four of the arrested men belonged to the Khmer Worker Power Federation Union, and two belonged to the Cambodia Solidarity Union Federation. The unions said the arrests were clearly meant to scare them out of organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. legitimate strikes.

“The government is afraid and concerned about the wave of worker protests since they can’t stop it,” said Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Force used to end Veng Sreng strike02-05-2014

On 2 May 2014, paramilitary forces from Brigade 70 broke up a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
of 100 employees at Pemir Garment Factory on Veng Sreng Boulevard.

The workers were demanding a lunch bonus and an end to forced overtime.
Cheng Sophavy, an officer at the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said:

“They did not settle with workers; they deployed paramilitary forces instead. They do so to discourage us and force us back to work.”

Worker representative Chan Saban, 21, said: “We protested without any brute force, so using soldiers to crack down is not right.”

May Day event not sanctioned; Ministry threatens – and uses – force to disperse gathering 02-05-2014

Around 20 unions requested permission from the Phnom Penh City Hall to stage a gathering at Freedom Park on 1 May 2014. The request was denied.

According to a Ministry of Interior spokesperson, “The authorities would not give permission because it would affect our security.”

“If they are stubborn, they have to bear the consequences” and “be responsible before the law,” he said, indicating that force may be used to disperse any gathering at Freedom Park on May 1.

A spokesperson from the City Hall indicated that the authorities did not authorise the gathering because they were still investigating the January violence at the venue.

On 2 May 2014, the Phnom Penh Post reported that police and security forces injured at least five people at a Labour Day rally next to Freedom Park. The injuries occurred when the police and security forces (some in civilian dress) violently broke up the rally using batons and cattle prods.

More than 1,500 people had gathered around Naga Bridge on Norodom Boulevard at about 9 a.m. to voice demands for better working conditions and wages, and to greet the arrival of opposition leaders Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha and Mu Sochua.

At about 10 a.m., after the Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders had left, more than 100 helmeted Daun Penh district security guards, along with municipal police and plain-clothed men wielding wooden batons, metal poles and cattle prods, were deployed to disperse the thinning crowd.

On Street 108, security guards were seen beating people over the head with batons at random. One man was dragged off his motorbike and beaten on the ground by a crowd of district security guards in front of journalists and NGO workers.

Government establishes new Committee and introduces new law to clamp down on union activity31-10-2014

In early 2014, the government appointed the heads of the armed forces to a new Committee to Solve Strikes and Demonstrations, which threatens to militarise future government responses to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
activity and demonstrations. Following the 2-3 January strikes, the government has repeatedly used force to break up demonstrations and rallies, and has detained trade union leaders for participating in those events.

Further limitations on trade union activity were being developed through a review of the laws regulating trade unions. A draft of the Trade Union Law made public in May was reviewed by the International Labour Organization International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
, which said that it fell well short of meeting international conventions signed by Cambodia that ensure the right to assemble and unionise.

At a workshop on the draft union law for government, factory and union representatives in Phnom Penh in May, ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
labour relations specialist John Ritchotte said it failed to comply with Cambodia’s ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
convention obligations on several points and was actually a step backward compared to earlier versions.

The proposed law gives the country’s courts broad power to revoke union licenses. It also stipulates that at least 20 per cent of employees at an enterprise must agree to join a union before it is allowed to register with the Ministry of Labour. It also stipulates that only one union may exist per workplace. The existing law did not require a minimum number of members to set up in a single workplace, and did not limit the number of unions.

“It seems to lock many out from creating unions,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said.

The rule could lead to wide-scale dominance of government-loyal unions and seriously hamper those that are independent, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said.

In October 2014, the Interior Minister Sar Kheng indicated to factory owners and investors that he would work with the Labour Ministry to push through the draft Trade Union law to give the government more control over unions and the courts’ power to revoke the registration of unions deemed to be acting illegally.

Bus company fires 17 employees for forming union, rejects court order to reinstate 1504-07-2014

Sorya Transportation, a bus company based in Phnom Penh, fired 17 employees for trying to form a bus drivers’ union at the company in April 2014.

More than 60 people went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
following the sackings, demanding reinstatements, a salary rise and several other points. Most drivers later returned to work, leaving only those who had been terminated to continue protesting.

The vice president of the bus driver union, Yem Kuyba, filed a lawsuit with Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April, which was forwarded to the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council.

On 4 July 2014, the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council ruled that the bus company must rehire 15 workers and pay benefits according to the law to the other two.

Sorya Transportation general manager Chan Sophanna said he would only rehire the workers if the council helped him pay their salaries.

“If I accept them back, who will help me to pay their salary? If [the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council] helps me pay their salary, then I will agree with them,” Sophanna said. “I do business to make a profit, not lose money, so if they try to force me to accept this, I will appeal to a higher court.”

Leader of biggest independent union ordered not to meet with workers, engage in public activities30-09-2014

In September 2014, Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), was placed under judicial supervision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The court’s decision was made a day after Thorn joined demonstrations calling for $177 monthly minimum wage for garment workers.

Thorn is on trial for charges of causing intentional violence, making threats, destroying property and obstructing traffic. The charges relate to his alleged role in three different union actions: the January 2014 protests in special export processing zones where six were killed; the April 2014 protests against SL Garment Processing; and minimum wage protests on 18 September 2014.

Thorn was already under orders not to join gatherings or meet with union members. Those orders were made by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April 2014, and required Thorn to stay away from the SL Garment Processing factory and to avoid public gatherings that could “damage public order”. He is alleged to have breached those orders by taking part in protests on 18 September.

“If I cannot lead workers or meet with them, then what can I do? As a president of a union, this is serious punishment for me,” he said.

This followed an earlier decision of the court to require Thorn to post a $25,000 bail in order to stay out of pre-trial detention.

Thorn is the third union leader to be subjected to a court order prohibiting participation in public gatherings until their trial concludes.

The CCAWDU is the largest independent trade union in Cambodia.

Widespread harassment of workers for union activity30-06-2014

In June 2014, international trade union groups reported that approximately 200 workers had been fired since January 2014 for their involvement in trade union activity. While some have been reinstated, many remain dismissed.

Smart Tech, a bicycle factory in Bavet City, fired 45 workers for their involvement in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
for better pay and conditions. In April 2014, it also paid workers $50 for not participating in a particular strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. It was one of many factories in special economic zones in Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham to have made the payment. One employee indicated:

“The factory also promised us that if we do not protest for another three months we will get $25. So we will not protest or strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, but if other workers [at my factory] protest, I will join them.”

Civil and criminal complaints have been lodged by garment manufacturers against unions which protested the inadequacy of the minimum wage even though there is no evidence that the targeted unions (all of which are independent of the ruling party) either called for or condoned any of the property damaged cause – likely caused by pro-government provocateurs.

Additionally, garment manufacturers have harassed unionists by lodging baseless claims. In May 2014, a newspaper reported that 17 labour activists had been detained since February 2014, including nine in the week leading up to 24 May 2014.

“Despite assurances from the government in February, there have since been unprecedented levels of intimidation, violence, and a declining respect for the rule of law, which together constitute a grave attack on union and worker rights,” said Jyrki Raina, secretary general of In-dustriALL, in a statement.

Six killed, 38 hospitalised and 23 arrested in police crackdown on protest for workers’ rights20-10-2014

On 2-3 January 2014, the government of Cambodia used lethal violence to quash strikes and demonstrations that erupted after the government announced a new minimum wage far below what government-supported research suggested was an adequate wage.

Most garment workers are mired in poverty even after working excessively long hours. The protestors were seeking an increase of the monthly minimum wage to $160, state protection of labour rights and the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

Heavily armed police and soldiers mobilised, killing six and hospitalising at least 38.

The government has since established a committee to investigate the killings and injuries, but as it lacks independence few expect any meaningful results. To date, the government has failed to provide compensation to the victims and the families of the dead.

Additionally, 23 workers were arrested for participating in the strikes and demonstrations and charged with the criminal offences of aggravated violence, damage to public property, and insulting civil servants, among other charges.

Despite repeated appeals from the UN, NGOs and trade unions, 21 workers remained in prison for nearly six months, denied bail despite the fact that some of the workers required urgent medical attention arising from injuries sustained from being beaten by police during the protests. One of the detainees died from his injuries in May 2014. Another accused, Meas Nun, was a minor throughout his detention and suffers from a developmental disability.

The workers were tried in a legal process rife with serious procedural irregularities that undermined their right to a fair trial. As late as 28 April 2014, the families of the accused reported that, although they had been detained for months, police had only questioned four of the accused.

On 30 May, the government sentenced all 23 (plus two more involved in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in November) to between four to five years’ imprisonment. However, due to international pressure, the sentences were suspended and all of them are free. Nine of them then went to receive medical care in Thailand for injuries sustained during the protests, paid for by rights group Licadho.

The UN High Commission for Human Rights in Cambodia and the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
jointly stated that, “[we] are concerned about the criminal conviction of all 25 individuals, in view of the apparent procedural shortcomings in all three trials and the lack of evidence establishing direct responsibility of the individuals for the actions of which they were nevertheless found guilty. Furthermore, in a number of cases, the evidence indicates that individuals were arrested when simply exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, while defending workers’ socio-economic interests.”

Unions remain concerned that the convictions will be used as a tool to limit or prohibit their future exercise of the right to associate lest they be imprisoned.

On 20 October 2014, the Phnom Penh Post reported that many of the 23 workers arrested over the January strikes were broke and out of jobs. Some claim they have been excluded from the garment sector completely. One of the convicted, Ros Sophorn, stated that he had applied to more than 20 factories since his release and had been rejected by all.

Ros said: “I’ve applied for jobs with garment factories, but they say my name was rejected because I was detained in the prison and other factories would not accept men because they are afraid they will start protests. I think my name was blacklisted, that’s why no factory accepts me.”

Further, 170 factories, represented by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), filed a court complaint against the union leaders for their alleged involvement in the 10-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The complaints included claims of intention violence in aggravating circumstances during the January strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
.

In October 2014, the Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng indicated that he would encourage the factories to drop the criminal complaints.

Workers beaten on May Day09-02-2015

At least five people were injured during May Day celebrations outside Freedom Park. Hundreds of police officers were deployed and the park was surrounded with barbed wire to bar protesters. Police and security forces intervened violently against around 1,500 people demanding better working conditions and wages. According to the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia, at least three journalists were attacked by police.

Police brutality12-11-2013

On 12 November 2013, workers, employed at SL Garment, marched to the Prime Minister’s residence demanding better pay and working conditions. Heavily armed police responded by using live bullets and tear gas to disperse the marchers. A woman who was selling rice at the side of the road was shot and killed. The Prime Minister argued that protests would put the garment industry under risk by encouraging companies to relocate to countries with lower labour costs.

Acts of anti-union discrimination16-08-2013
Physical assaults against trade unionists16-08-2013

A gunman opened fire against 1,000 workers from three different factories who were demonstrating in favour of better working conditions. The alleged perpetrator Chhouk Bandith, governor of the Bavet region, was charged with “unintentional injury”.

Sanctions against strike action30-09-2012
Dismissal for participating in a strike30-07-2013
Violation of collective agreement30-07-2013
No civil service unions28-12-2011
Labour relations undermined by corruption24-12-2011

Branch union representatives are occasionally offered large sums of money to join the ranks of a yellow union yellow union A union set up and/or controlled by the employer to prevent the establishment of a genuine trade union. during labour disputes, as seen during the Cambrew strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
(see violations section). In some instances, when workers whose union rights have been violated receive a favourable ruling from the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council, such as reinstatement following an unfair dismissal, they are offered money to renounce these rights. Huey Chen is one of the companies that deployed this tactic in 2011 (see violations section).

Several sources report that regular and non-official payments are made by Ministry representatives to the leaders of yellow unions or unions close to the government. Although it is difficult to independently verify this information, these alleged payments may go some way towards explaining the proliferation in the number of trade union federations in Cambodia, which is weakening the quality of worker representation.

Yellow unions23-12-2011

The establishment of yellow unions is another tactic widely deployed by companies to prevent the emergence of genuine worker representation. These yellow unions or unions close to the government have no difficulty registering their organisations, unlike independent unions. The latter often have to wait over a year to be registered whilst yellow unions are registered within a day or two. Workers are often placed under heavy pressure to join yellow unions.

Subcontractors fiercely opposed to unionisation22-12-2011

According to the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), over half of all garment factories are subcontractors working for export manufacturers. Most of these subcontractors are fiercely opposed to the formation of unions and do not respect the labour legislation. Some of these factories use child labour.

Intimidation used to stop strikes and demonstrations 31-12-2010

Unions planning to hold a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
or demonstration often face intimidation. They can, for example, be threatened with prosecution: there is a growing trend among employers of taking trade union representatives to court in the event of a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and demanding the payment of astronomical sums supposedly in compensation for the losses incurred during the work stoppage. The heavy presence of armed police, ready to use force, is another method used to intimidate striking workers, even though violent strikes are very rare.

Collusion between some employers and the police can be enough to dissuade workers from going on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. Many workers’ demonstrations are cancelled owing to acts of intimidation and harassment by employers or the local authorities, which are often closely linked.

Trade union rights violated with impunity 31-12-2010

In spite of some progress thanks to initiatives such as ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
projects and the efforts of certain international buyers, working conditions and respect for trade union rights in the clothing industry (Cambodia’s biggest sector) are still poor, particularly in subcontracted operations.

In many factories, trade unionists continue to face serious repression, including death threats, dismissals, blacklisting, false charges to bring them before the courts, wage deductions and exclusion from promotion, etc. The government very rarely prosecutes or imposes penalties on employers for anti-union practices. Labour inspectors are poorly trained and, given their low pay, are open to bribery.

The Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) reported the suspension or dismissal of 257 of its trade union leaders during 2010. In the case of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the total reaches 65 (32 of whom are women), and includes ordinary members. The FTUWKC also reported physical attacks and threats against six of its members and trade union representative during 2010.

Short term contracts becoming widespread and weakening trade unions 30-11-2009

Many permanent contracts are being replaced by short term contracts (one to six months) allowing employers to avoid applying labour legislation. Furthermore, workers are reluctant to join unions for fear of not having their contract renewed. The government has proposed amending the legislation to enable enterprises to employ workers indefinitely on short term contracts rather than the de facto two year limit. In face of the many protests the proposal provoked, the amendments had not been adopted by the end of 2009.

Parody of justice18-02-2009

On 31 December 2008, the Supreme Court of Cambodia finally ordered the release (on bail) of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who had spent nearly five years behind bars, falsely charged with murdering the leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) Chea Vichea (see the 2009 edition of the Annual Survey). It also sent the case back to the Court of Appeal to be retried. On 17 August the Court of Appeal decided that the two men could remain free on bail and that the case should be re-examined, but without specifying which court would be responsible.

On 18 February, the Court of Appeal confirmed the 15-year prison sentence handed down to Chan Sopheak (also known as Thach Saveth) for the murder of Ros Sovannareth, also a leader of the FTUWKC. He was sentenced in 2005 in a trial that violated the most basic standards for a fair trial.

Social dialogue often difficult30-11-2009

Collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
is dogged by difficulties and few unions have managed to conclude an enforceable agreement. Management at Tack Fat Garment refused to meet trade union representatives from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) between February and October after is suspended 1.823 workers without paying them due compensation. The union coalition wanted to find a compromise.

Strikes repressed30-11-2009

Although the government generally tolerates strikes, when the police are called on to intervene they do not hesitate to use violence and make arrests. Company security guards and hired thugs are also responsible for violently repressing strikes. Furthermore, the connivance between some employers and the police can be enough to dissuade workers from going on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
.

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