Cambodia: UN agency urges dialogue to resolve labour dispute in Special Economic Zones

The Special Economic Zone in Khan Posenchey, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, houses fashion, food, electronic products, and more for local and regional consumption. Photo: World Bank/Chhor Sokunthea


The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) called on Cambodian workers, trade unions, Government and employers to engage in dialogue to resolve a confrontation in the Special Economic Zones in Bavet City and enable a return to work.

“The recent confrontations are not constructive means of industrial action,” the ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos said in a news release, offering its good offices, technical assistance and advisory services to help the parties resolve the dispute.

According to media reports, police used water cannons on Monday to quash a protest by factory workers seeking higher wages, detaining at least a dozen demonstrators.

“The ILO appeals to all involved parties that genuine efforts are made to avoid any repeat of such actions,” the release said. “The early reinstatement of normal operations in the affected factories and safe return of workers to their workplaces are issues of critical importance.”

Stressing that the zones constitute a significant part of Cambodia’s industrial sector, the ILO warned that recent events there could affect a number of factories that operate in an intensely competitive international environment.

“As such, these factories are also a major source of employment and income for a large number of Cambodian households,” it said. “They also contribute significantly to Cambodia’s international trade, attract foreign direct investments and continue to promote business development opportunities.

“The current frictions if not addressed promptly and effectively might become a cause for concern for all parties.”