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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   24 June 2013  

Municipal officials given a larger hand in labour disputes

Phnom Penh:Continuing its efforts to quell an increasing number of strikes in the Kingdom’s lucrative garment sector, the government this week issued a directive aimed at giving provincial and municipal governors powers to resolve issues at factories without calling on ministries in Phnom Penh.

“To ensure further contributions to economic growth and to solve problems for the people, the government gives [municipal] and provincial governors more duties,” states the  directive, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday and obtained yesterday.

Under the changes, provincial authorities have powers to monitor the productivity of their local factories, examine worksites, solve industrial disputes and maintain public order when workers strike.

The Labour and Social Affairs ministries have previously exclusively carried out such duties.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, called the directive “meaningful”, but said he believed only the Ministry of Labour should deal with strikes.

“Some officials enflame disputes, which leads to violent crackdowns,” he said.

During a speech on Wednesday in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, which is home to 38 garment factories, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged garment workers to refrain from striking or risk factories departing for more stable markets.

Dave Welsh, country manager for labour-rights group Solidarity Center/ACILS, said giving provincial authorities more powers seemed to be a step in the right direction.

Welsh said his organisation had been asking the government to give more authorities the power to deal aggressively with factories who had falsely declared themselves bankrupt.

“If owners are fleeing . . . there should be criminal sanctions.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said decentralisation should “in theory” speed up the decision-making process when it came to dealing with issues such as workers blocking national roads.

“We often hear [from authorities] that ‘we are waiting for instructions’,” he said. “There will no longer be a need to wait for solutions from the central government."

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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