PHNOM PENH —
A controversial draft law to regulate unions is set for debate at the National Assembly, despite protests by union leaders, who say the new law will make it even harder for workers to bargain for rights, fair wages and proper working conditions.
The Council of Ministers approved the draft law at a meeting in late November, and it is being reviewed by the Assembly’s legislative committee.
It is unclear whether the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will boycott a vote on the law, as they have on contentious laws in the past.
Sok Eysan, a lawmaker and spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the draft law will be debated whether Rescue Party parliamentarians participate or not. The CPP will have enough to quorum and enough to pass the law without them, he said. “We will not have anything to prevent us.”
The draft law contains provisions that will restrict the formation of unions and could criminalize some activities of labor leaders.
Unions fear it will mean less representation for factory workers, who have long complained of poor wages and unsatisfactory working conditions.
More than 3,000 unions are registered with the government, but only about 1,000 of them are active in the interest of workers.
Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith said the party will meet to discuss the draft later this week. Party lawmakers have not decided whether they will take part in debate and voting on the law, he said.