ITUC-CC/JILAF Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Cambodia

Group photo of the seminar participants

JILAF held a two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Phnom Penh on August 27–28 jointly with the Cambodian Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-CC). The seminar was attended by a total of 61 people.

At the beginning of the seminar, opening addresses were heard from Vice-President of the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions (CCTU), President Ath Thorn of the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), President Rong Chhun of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), Coordinator Tun Sophorn of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Deputy Secretary General Kaing Monika of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), Second Secretary Maekawa of the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia, JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo, and Director General Prak Chanthoeun of Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. Their statements included hopes that the seminar would contribute to employment stability and the building of constructive industrial relations in Cambodia and, amid the further advance of globalization, emphasis on the need for Cambodia also to turn its eyes more to world trends and economic trends.

Regarding employment stability and the building of constructive industrial relations, the CCTU, CCU, and CLC outlined their respective activities and positions. In particular, regarding next fiscal year’s minimum wage in Cambodia, the CCTU stated that “While it should be raised in accordance with price increases, the decision should be made comprehensively in consideration of other factors as well, such as international competitiveness.” The CCU commented that “It should be positioned as a wage that guarantees a minimum level of living for people and based on this standard; the focus should not be placed only on the rate of increase each year.” And the CLC remarked, “From the perspective that the improvement of working conditions boosts the motivation of workers and also leads to better corporate profits, it should be directed to an appropriate level.”

JILAF President Nagumo shared basic thinking on the objectives and role of trade unions and also spoke about the importance of understanding the spirit of self-help, mutual aid, and public assistance in the labour movement, the significance of “working” as a means of promoting self-realization and self-establishment, and the value of having pride in one’s own work.

JILAF Group Leader Toshikazu Saito gave an overview of the background to the efforts of Japanese trade unions to build constructive industrial relations, including the economic development of Japan after World War II and the transformation of the labour movement. As specific examples of constructive industrial relations by Japanese trade unions, he then explained such cases as efforts to achieve employment stability centered on the productivity movement, the functions and roles of labour-management negotiations and the labour-management consultation system, the annual spring labour struggle, tripartite social dialogue, and the mechanism for determining labour policy.

Mr. Nuon Rithy, a labour consultant in Cambodia, stressed the importance of “soft skills” in the building of constructive industrial relations, namely, communication skills, teamwork, and change of mind (positive thinking), as well as attitude toward work, sincerity, discipline, and so on. He explained that at the time of negotiations with the company, relations of mutual trust could be built by utilizing these soft skills.

Regarding globalization and the role of trade unions, JILAF Group Leader Saito highlighted specific issues faced by consignment sewing factories operated by global apparel corporations in Asia (working environment, working conditions, environmental burden) and then, as the role of trade unions, emphasized the need for the building of constructive industrial relations, the realization of social dialogue, the training of human resources for that purpose, and international collaboration among trade unions.

In the group discussions that followed, the participants divided into four groups to talk about measures for the building of constructive industrial relations and the role of trade unions amid the advance of globalization. Their presentations included proposals for the holding of regular meetings with employers (labour-management consultations), labour and management thinking together about case studies to decide how to respond when industrial disputes occur, efforts to train and upgrade the skills of senior trade union officials, and the deepening of collaboration and cooperation with international labour organizations (the ITUC, global union federations, etc.).

Finally, the seminar ended with a closing address from JILAF President Nagumo, who said that “I want you to aim to become senior trade union officials who are trusted by shop-floor union members. If you achieve that, you can gain the trust of the company and society as well and enhance the social and public-interest qualities of trade unions.”


08/27TueSeminar day 1 (Venue: Phnom Penh)
08/28WedSeminar day 2 (Venue: Phnom Penh)

Photos of the Participants

Participants listen attentively to a speaker.

Group discussions

A participant makes a point.