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Report

20 Nov 2022

Author:
Human Rights Watch

Cambodia: HRW's report reveals govt.'s and employers' use of COVID-19 as pretext to crack down and restrict union activities; call for global solutions

"Only “Instant Noodle” Unions Survive: Union Busting in Cambodia’s Garment and Tourism Sectors", 20 November 2022

The Cambodian government has used the Covid-19 pandemic to jail union activists, restrict union registration, and block the right to strike in the garment and tourism industries, Human Rights Watch today said in a report released ...

The 97-page report, “Only ‘Instant Noodle’ Unions Survive: Union Busting in Cambodia’s Garment and Tourism Sectors,” documents how the Cambodian government and some employers have used various legal and administrative tactics during the Covid-19 pandemic to weaken Cambodia’s independent union movement and violate workers’ rights. Measures adopted to address the severe economic impacts of the pandemic have punished independent unions while benefitting employer-friendly unions, which could register quickly with the government, like “making instant noodles,” in the words of a prominent union leader.

“The Cambodian government and unscrupulous employers used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to further restrict independent unions instead of protecting worker welfare and rights at a desperate time,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch…

From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic …, the Cambodian government intensified its crackdown on independent unions, using rights-violating laws and new public health measures to justify unwarranted restrictions on unions. Cambodia’s problematic Trade Union Law imposes mandatory, burdensome requirements for registering unions, conducting collective bargaining, and exercising the right to strike…

In one example, …, the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh laid off 1,329 workers. The authorities arbitrarily designated an ongoing strike illegal, and used social distancing and other Covid-19 mitigation measures as a pretext to remove strikers and temporarily confine them for testing…