The Cambodian Confederation of Unions

TU Training on Social Security Policies (Focus on Pension Schemes,
2-6 Aug 2010, Singapore

Cambodia situated on the Indochinese peninsula, Cambodia is bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south. The Gulf of Thailand is off the western coast. The size of Missouri, the country consists chiefly of a large alluvial plain ringed by mountains with the Mekong River to the east. The plain is centered around Lake Tonle Sap, which is a natural storage basin of the Mekong.


The Cambodian Confederation of Union (CCU) had been formed in July 6th, 2006. (CCU) was jointly established by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and The Free Trade Union of Worker of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC).  The objective and goal are to gather the teachers’ organization and workers’ unions to become unique body of institution and closely helping each other to influence the authorities and government decision-making. And it has more 95000 memberships at all 24 provinces and garment factories in Cambodia.

CCU’s empowerment and movement would be used the strategic campaigns and advocacy policies to increase the membership in both sectors. Its project would develop the awareness-raising and capacity building to teachers and workers as unionists and activists for making commitment to promote their working condition. 

CCU’s framework would act as strong interventions with government to protect working rights and violation at the workplaces and use the national and international material (rule and laws) to ensure safety and security teachers. Particularly it would enhance the respect for human rights and decrease discrimination at workplaces. 

In the future, CCU will establish the other association which is under the umbrella of CCU such as association for farmer, water, electricity, doctor, etc. because these factors are not establish yet.

Presently, the farmers have been confronting with the land confiscated, the rice or paddy are sold in the cheap cost, cannot settle with their expenditure cost.

The staffs of state water or electricity supply often gets the pressure or rights restricted and no one responsible for resolving the issue happened.

Since the past and until now, the doctor that ended their study was not justly divided to fulfil their job and the government is not responsible for looking for workplace.

Note: The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) was established in March 2000, recognised by the Ministry of Interior No: 729, 17 July, 2001 as a civic association, but is not recognised by the MOLVT as a trade union, CITA has repeatedly been harassed and monitored by local public authorities and the police when organizing meeting, especially in rural provinces outside the major cities. CITA is not recognised by the government as having the rights to collectively bargain on behalf of teachers. CITA currently has 9263 members across country; it has established 19 provincial representatives to work with schools and education departments.  CITA has had of wide range of successes for protecting professional rights and promoting the principles of democracy in the education sector, and increasing in salary, better working condition.

The obstacle for CITA’ activities in practice:

In 2005, the defamation charges against Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) were suspended, and he was released on January 17 after almost three months in jail. Similar charges, all relating to a statement issued in 2005 criticizing the border agreement with Vietnam, were subsequently suspended against Mr. Chea Mony and Mr. Men Nath, and on 1 February, Chea Mony safely returned to Cambodia after months in exile.  The releases and bail for Mr. Rong Chhun were guaranteed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, but he later said in public statements that any activists who behaved “arrogantly” could be re-arrested, and at the end of the year, the formal charges against Mr. Rong Chhun had still not been dropped. 

Note: The Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) was established in beginning of 1996 and currently has more than 85891 members and created more than 198 local unions at factory across the country. In practice, FTUKC often fight for a better of working conditions, wage, rights, freedom and law respects for workers. When the workers hold the strike or demonstration at the factory because injustice happened at the workplace, they are always prevented or beat by the authority.

The wage of workers was increased after the demand of FTUWKC:

  • Year 1996: worker wage: USD$27
  •     –    2000:worker  wage :USD$45
  •     –    2006: worker wage : USD$50
  •     –    2008: bonus             : USD$6 (every month) added to USD$50
  •     –    2010: worker wage  :USD$61(every month) Note: To apply on 01 October, 2010.

From year 2004-2010

  • 528 complaints are resolved ( 225 common complaints and 303 individual complaints)
  • 364 strikes and demonstrations (demanding the factory owners to  respect the working conditions)
  • 111 factories were closed and 76 local unions of FTUWKC
  • 96 798 workers lost job across the country and 28 593 workers were members of FTUWKC

On 22nd January 2004, Mr. Chea Vichea, President of FTUWKC, was shot dead while reading the newspaper at the newsagent. Then Mr. Ros Sovannareth, and leader of FTUKWC at factory-level was shot to death because of the reason of protecting the rights, freedom of union.

In 2005, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were convicted of the murder of Chea Vichea, President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), and each sentenced to 20 years in jail but there was no proof to show these two people as murderers to Mr. Chea Vichea, then the supreme court decided to release them on bail in December 2008.

Current Obstacle:

In labour code, article 277, the union is able to write a collective bargain agreement as they have the most majority representative over 51% of members among the total workers in the factory and at least 33% pay the dues.

In Cambodia, there are 2 or 3 deferent trade unions in one factory, even if we have the most majority representatives, we are able to write a collective bargaining, but the other trade union still hold the strike or demonstration and do not respect the labor code.

In principle, FTUWKC needs CBA because it is better than the law but the factory owner do not want to do, and there are many factories do not respect even the labor code.

According to the researching committee, ILO in Cambodia, over the worker wage in 2002 showed that the wage causes the workers to be able to live and survive is USD$93.00/ month but the present wage is USD$50.00/month, and cause the workers are very hard to live and survive.

The local union leaders are very hard to understand the labor code because those elected are brave only but aren’t aware of the law

Phnom Penh, 27th July, 2010

Srey Kimheng,
CCU – Cambodian Confederation of Unions