Since Cambodia introduced a new law regulating union activity, officials say disputes between workers and bosses have seen a slight decline.
Union leaders, however, say the fall is due to legal roadblocks to workers registering complaints with the country’s arbitration body.
Last year only 330 labor complaints were registered with the Arbitration Council, compared with 365 in 2015, according to Chhiv Phyrum, who chairs the organization.
“And the number has continued to fall during the first two months of 2017 compared with 2016,” she said.
“Both employers and employees have started to seek more peaceful solutions before they go to protests,” she added. “Unlike in the past, when whatever went wrong led to employees choosing to demonstrate.”
Mam Vannak, secretary of state at the Labor Ministry, said fewer disputes meant a stronger economy.
“Less disputes means more productivity. More productivity contributes to the growth of the economy,” he said. “We have a trusted Arbitration Council where most decisions are accepted by both parties.”
He blamed the large number of labor disputes on a misunderstanding of the law.
But Pao Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the slight decrease in labor complaints was not a reflection of a real decrease in the number of disputes.
“It doesn’t mean the disputes were minimized. Actually there are even more conflicts. Some cases are restricted by the union law.”