Camboya - Still no labour courts (2011)

Labour courts have still not been set up, despite being provided for in the Cambodian Labour Law (1997). Any legal action has therefore to be taken before a civil or criminal court, which is often a lengthy process (up to eight years in some cases).

The Arbitration Council, a tripartite body created under the labour legislation, has effectively taken the place of the Labour Courts. It is widely respected for its even-handed and impartial investigations and rulings. However, employers found to have engaged in anti-union discrimination usually appeal against the Council’s decisions in the provincial courts. Moreover, employers often choose not to apply the Council’s recommendations (see court decisions).

An important agreement was, however, signed on 28 September between six major union confederations and federations and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). It stipulates that in the absence of a collective agreement at a company, the parties shall accept the binding recommendations of the Arbitration Council in rights disputes, and where there is a collective agreement, any dispute regarding its application shall also be the object of binding arbitration. The agreement came into force on 1 January 2011.

In November, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association called on the government to take action to provide capacity building for the judiciary and to institute safeguards against corruption in order to guarantee the independence and effectiveness of the judicial system.

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