A global union has said it will continue to "keep watch" on Cambodia to ensure workers' rights are respected after a controversial new trade union law was adopted earlier this week. 

The draft trade union law, which was approved by Cambodia's National Assembly on Monday (5 April), has continued to cause concern over its alleged non-compliance with ILO conventions. Human rights groups and local unions believe it will restrict a worker's freedom of association and right to strike. 

IndustriAll said it has repeatedly voiced its concern to the Cambodian government that the law does not meet core international labour standards, including International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98.

"The new trade union law must not be used to undermine workers, but to strengthen them," said IndustriAll's general secretary, Jyrki Raina. "The fundamental right of workers to organise and bargain collectively is vital to achieving better wages and working conditions in Cambodia."

The ILO in Cambodia, which helped the government to draft the trade union law, said that while some meaningful improvements were noted in subsequent drafts, on numerous occasions it had drawn the government's attention to several key concerns and gaps.

"These are mainly related to insufficient protection of the right of all workers and employers to freely set up organisations of their own choosing, and of the right of these organisations to decide on their internal matters without interference, as part of Cambodia's obligations under ratified ILO Conventions."

On approval of the law, the Assembly acknowledged the "challenges" faced by the industry and said the legislation has been prepared in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and in line with conventions 87 and 98.

Cambodia's US$6.2bn apparel and footwear industry has around 655 garment and footwear factories employing some 607,000 workers, and is frequently plagued by strikes. Global garment brands and retailers including Walmart, Target, Ralph Lauren, VF Corporation and PVH have already expressed their concerns at the Cambodian Government's plans.

Cambodia approves controversial trade union law

Cambodia draft union law continues to cause concern