Bilateral Seminar in Cambodia

The JILAF held a bilateral seminar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 14th November with a 40 participants in total, many of whom had taken part in the JILAF Invitation Programme before. From 2001 to 2013 the JILAF invited 22 participants from Cambodia to Japan, including 8 persons from the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions (CCTU), 2 from the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), and 3 from the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC).

The seminar aimed to update information on current labour situations and other labour issues in Japan for union officers of the Cambodian Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-CC), who had taken part in the JILAF Invitation Programme, and consequently it would contribute to build constructive industrial relations and prevent industrial disputes in Cambodia.

A lively exchange of opinions took place in the seminar, and the participants were able to increase their awareness of the importance of building constructive industrial relations. In his opening address, Brother Chuon Momthol, Secretary General of the ITUC-CC (President of the CCTU), who participated in the Invitation Programme in Fiscal Year 2005, remarked, “I was very impressed by the fact that wage negotiations are not confrontational in Japan, but have been institutionalised and regularised as the Shunto, in which negotiations are concentrated every spring on a nationwide scale. That experience led me to unify the three national centres, namely CCTU, CCU, and CLC, as the ITUC-CC. I hope that the participants in today’s seminar will learn a lot from the experience of the Japanese labour movement and make use of it for your own activities.”

In addition, referring in his address to the incident which occurred just before the seminar and in which police fired on demonstrating textile factory workers, Brother Rong Chhun, President of the CCU, who took part in the Invitation Programme in Fiscal Year 2004, commented, “This incident is a step back for democracy. It resembles from what happened in the Pol Pot era. I sincerely hope that this seminar will reconfirm the role of trade unions toward true democratisation.”

Brother Hisashige Danno, Executive Director of the JILAF then made a presentation titled “The World Economy at a Major Historical Turning Point and the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations to Support Its Development.” The main points of his lecture were; (1) the modern history of Cambodia was negatively affected by international politics in the US-Soviet Cold War; (2) since democratization in 1993, Cambodia has been buffeted by the waves of globalization, widening income disparities in the country (the ASEAN Economic Community has an important role to play in the future); (3) to correct these disparities is a role of trade unions; and that (4) their countermeasures are to build constructive industrial relations and to foster trust between union officers and union members (trade union democracy).

Having the presentations by the former participants in the JILAF Invitation Programme was a good opportunity to reconfirm the importance of constructive industrial relations. One participant noted, “It was impressive to see the fact that there is only a single enterprise-based union in a company in Japan in many cases. Compared with Cambodia, where it is not unusual for multiple unions to exist in the same company, this is a much better way of unifying the opinions of workers and conveying them to the employer.” Another participant commented, “I was surprised by big differences between Japan and Cambodia, including their negotiating skills of trade unions. When they demand a wage hike, Japanese trade unions concentrate on showing objective facts that employers will find convincing.” And another stated, “I felt that I wanted to establish mutual-aid organisations for workers, such as labour bank and cooperative in Cambodia as well. Job support schemes in Japan, like the Hello Work offices, are important, too. I strongly felt that we must learn from Japan’s experience and establish union autonomy as quickly as possible. In order to make Cambodia’s labour movement and industrial relations constructive, young union members must study hard.”


11/14ThuBilateral Seminar
11/15FriMeeting with the ITUC-CC

Photos of the Participants

Seminar participants

Presentation by a past participant in the JILAF Invitation Program (1)

Presentation by a past participant in the JILAF Invitation Program (2)