The Arbitration Council Foundation released a new study on 17 September 2015 examining the key triggers and contributing factors of strikes in the Cambodian garment and footwear industry.  The study identifies weaknesses in workplace dispute prevention and resolution, unprofessional payments and coercive behavior by and among unions and employers, and system challenges in labour dispute resolution as among the complex factors contributing to the challenge of ongoing strikes. 

Mr Men Nimmith, Acting Executive Director of ACF said, “The study provides a detailed analysis into the root causes of strikes. Importantly, the study also gives significant and constructive recommendations about how to better meet the needs of industrial actors to resolve disputes without resort to unnecessary strikes.”

The study, based on analysis of industry data and extensive interviews, finds that strikes demanding greater payments are most common, with disputes concerning dismissal and alleged union discrimination being the second most common in strike cases. Interviewed workers and employers mentioned non-professional practices such as bribery, extortion and illegal interference as key triggers for strikes. The study also identifies the widespread practice of paying wages despite workers going on strike – so called ‘strike payments’ – as contributing to an enabling environment for industrial action. The study’s recommendations include concrete steps to improve workplace cooperation measures, build more professional and productive relationships between industrial actors, cease unfair labour practices, and increase transparency, compliance and legal enforcement in the industry.    

“We hope this study is a valuable resource for industrial actors and contributes to more informed, constructive dialogue in the garment and footwear sector and the broader field of industrial relations in Cambodia,” said Mr Men Nimmith.

The study’s findings were based on analysis of industry data, including the statistical data collected by the Arbitration Council over the more than 10 years of its successful operation, and more than 50 interviews with industrial relations actors. The study was undertaken by ACF with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. ACF is a non-political, non-governmental organisation established to facilitate the work of the Arbitration Council, the national independent institution mandated by the Labour Law to resolve labour disputes across Cambodia. Since its establishment in 2003, the Arbitration Council has received more than 2300 labour dispute cases affecting approximately 1 million workers in Cambodia, and achieved a successful dispute resolution rate of 73% of all cases.