IndustriALL Cambodian affiliates identified trade union division as a major obstacle to advancing workers’ rights in the country and pledged to work together to tackle their common concerns.
Meeting on 25 November, all seven IndustriALL affiliates: CLUF, TUWFPD, CLWLFU, CUF, CIFTU, NIFTUC, CCAWDU sought to identify major common priorities of their members. The country has 80 trade union federations, and IndustriALL’s affiliates in Cambodia see disunity as an immediate challenge to overcome.
Under the leadership of IndustriALL and the support of IF Metall (Sweden), the affiliates collectively signed an agreement where they endeavour to work together and in unity to address the following issues:
- Short term contracts: garment workers have three-month contracts that are renewed for a period of two years. After one year in the factory, the worker receives a seniority bonus. When the contract has been renewed for two years, the next contract offered considers the worker as a new employee; therefore the seniority bonus is lost. Apart from the work precariousness, workers who are 80% women cannot get paid maternity leave unless they have worked for one year, and a contract for three months does not guarantee this even if the workers have been in the same factory for more than a year.
- Organizing and Collective Bargaining: the law stipulates that collective bargaining be negotiated by the union who has the Most Representative Status (MRS), which is 50%+1. Given the number of unions in the same factory, this is very difficult to reach and then to maintain. Indeed, due to short-term contracts, union members leave the workplace, and the unions lose the MRS. Competition among unions affiliated to IndustriALL will be addressed to strengthen and support the work of each affiliate.
- Occupational Health and Safety: fainting of workers is common in Cambodia and the affiliates felt that it has not been addressed properly, neither by the government, nor by the factory managers. While employers suggest that fainting is caused by bad nutrition habits and because workers are wearing warm clothes despite the weather, workers identified bad ventilation and lack of oxygen circulation due to the number of workers inside small workplaces. Other OHS issues will be addressed such as chemicals in the textiles industry.
IndustriALL will continue to support the efforts of its affiliates toward unity. With the assistance of affiliates such as IF Metall, IndustriALL will provide support to strengthen affiliates’ expertise in issues mentioned above and those who will affect positively the workers’ condition.