Cambodian unions get law, but not right to strike

Cambodian unions get law, but not right to strike

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Thousands of unions and employers' associations in Cambodia saw a law governing their activities passed by the National Assembly, despite political and union opposition, local media reported on Tuesday.

The law, eight years in the making, will particularly impact the country’s 5-billion-dollar garment industry, which employs some 700,000 people. More than 60 per cent of these workers belonged to a union in 2013, according to a survey by Cambodian law firm BNG Legal.

The bill was passed late Monday by the ruling Cambodia People's Party after the opposition boycotted the vote, the Cambodia Daily reported.

Earlier in the day, protesters against the bill clashed with police outside the National Assembly.

One of the protesters was Ath Thorn, the president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, who said he was "shocked" the law had passed.

The parliament ignored "a lot of the points that we have given," he told dpa.

The final draft law does not include rights for unions to “function freely; strike; and establish national federations or confederations, and the right of the latter to form or join international trade union organizations,” according to a March 30 briefing by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Phnom Penh.

But the final bill also omitted much-criticized articles giving courts the right to dissolve or suspend labour organizations, that were included in earlier versions.

The legislation is expected to be approved by the Senate and then will be signed into law by the king.

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