Cambodia

Capital: Phnom Penh
Population: 15.32m. (2014 est.)

Cambodia became a member state of the ILO in 1969 and ratified ILO Convention No.87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948), and Convention No.98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1999.

Since the early 1990s Cambodia’s industrial relations have evolved rapidly.Most unions have been formed in the fast growing, mainly foreign-owned garment industry. There have been a number of threats and murders against trade union leaders, notably in the garment sector, and these crimes are met with impunity. The Trade Union Law approved in April 2016 has been adopted in spite of objections from sections of the Cambodian labour movement and from the international trade union community.

Trade unionists planning demonstrations have been subjected to physical violence, police threats, and dispersal of demonstrations by firing on crowds. On 24 December 2013, some workers held a protest in front of the Ministry of Labour, campaigning for a rise in the minimum wage. On 3 January 2014 five people were killed and a further 20 were injured by gunfire and beatings when police opened fire on a crowd of striking workers.

Most recently, trade unionists have been subjected to a spate of legal actions, including both criminal and civil cases. The charges brought against Chea Mony (see ICTUR Intervention letter, 2018) are a complex example, and highlight the divisions that exist between unions allied to different political groups. The prosecution against Mony was initiated by lawyers representing 120 different unions and federations, including the Cambodian Union Federation (CUF), which is part of the largest ITUC affiliate, the CCTU.

The labour movement is highly polarised, and accounts of membership data are contradictory, however, Cambodian Confederation of Trade Union (CCTU) is clearly one of the largest trade union groupings. It is regarded as politically close to the ruling CPP party, and is affiliated to the ITUC. Closer to the political opposition are unions such as the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) which is also affiliated to the ITUC, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC). Many other unions exist, including those independent of the main political factions.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Cambodia, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: arrests and legal harassment of trade unionists (2018)

Link to reportICTUR submission to United Nations' Universal Periodic Review (2017)

Link to reportIUR article: 'A Hungry Life: Protests, Violence, Killings, and Prison', Say (2014)

 

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

Established in 1987, ICTUR is a non-profit organisation
based in London, promoting international trade
union rights through research and advocacy services.
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