Myanmar and Cambodia to Trade Labor Arbitration Experiences

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Cambodia’s Arbitration Council will share its experiences in settling labor disputes at a series of workshops in Myanmar, a nation with a growing garment industry.

The meetings will take place in the capital as well as Yangon, the country’s largest city, according to a press release from the Labor Ministry. The workshops are being organized by the government of Myanmar and the International Labor Organization (ILO), which is assisting Myanmar in developing dispute-resolution mechanisms for its emerging garment industry.

Labor Minister Ith Samheng said: “The labor dispute resolution system of Cambodia’s Arbitration Council is a role model for other countries to follow.”

“The Arbitration Council has been recognized, inside and outside the region, for its probity and effectiveness,” Mr. Ith said.

Men Nimeth, acting executive director of the Arbitration Council, said the council’s indepence has been critical to its success. “The Arbitration Council has no political leaning,” he said. “It was established to coordinate the work of the Arbitration Foundation, which is an independent body mandated to handle labor disputes across Cambodia according to the Labor Law,” Mr. Nimeth explained.

Since its formation in 2003, the Arbitration Council has received 2,300 cases, covering a total of over 1 million employees, he said. Their success rate is 73 percent, he added.

Cambodia’s garment sector faces frequent protests by workers for better working conditions and pay. In some cases, this has led to litigation. Puma supplier Akeen Tex, for example, asked the courts to intervene after workers blocked a road on July 9.

Speaking to reporters at a meeting on the minimum wage, Mr. Ith defended a draft union law, saying it complies with international conventions and will reduce the number of strikes. “If it is firmly respected, the new law will lower the number of protests and riots at garment factories,” he said.

Unions are pushing for a higher minimum wage for the nation’s 700,000 garment workers. On Monday, some independent labor unions will propose $207.5 as the new monthly minimum wage. Last January, the government raised the minimum wage by 28 percent to $128 a month.

Source: Khmer Times

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