The Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) has held a special commemoration on International Human Rights Day (10 December). More than 80 worker leaders and union members attended the event, where attendees adopted a Manifesto demanding protection for the rights of construction workers.
“Cambodian workers have made huge progress in recent years by standing up and demanding their rights”, said BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino, who attended the commemoration. “It is critical that the international community shines a light on the backward steps being taken by the current Cambodia regime, to ensure that our progress is not in vain.”
Like other unions in Cambodia, the BWTUC has defied the draconian new rules implemented by the current Government regarding peaceful assembly and free speech.
The manifesto, which will be delivered today to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, made a number of specific demands regarding construction workers in Cambodia:
Implement a construction sector minimum wage;
Effective implementation of the National Social Security Fund in the construction sector;
Promote occupational safety and health in the construction sector; and
Request the Prime Minister to visit construction workers personally to gain a deeper understanding of their issues.
The BWI and BWTUC are extremely concerned about recent backward steps in democracy in Cambodia. For a better understanding of these issues, including the dissolution of the opposition party and the redistribution of their seats in the National Assembly to minor parties – see here.
During the recent BWI World Congress in Durban, a resolution was passed extending solidarity to Cambodian workers during this time, focussing particularly on the Trade Union Law 2016 which grants the Government significant scope to control the movement. Since the passage of that law, BWTUC and many other Cambodian unions have struggled to register enterprise unions.