New research has warned that possible changes to Cambodia's labour law could raise the risk of future strikes in the country and undermine the competitiveness of the garment industry.

The concerns are raised in a report by Yale Law School's Allard K Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, which claims the widespread use of temporary short-term employment contracts in Cambodia - called 'fixed-duration contracts' (FDCs) - not only denies workers statutory benefits, but also restricts their rights under international and local laws.

They also found it limits the competitiveness of the garment industry and introduces the threat of a major breakdown of industrial relations - including the potential for massive strikes.

And worryingly, the Cambodian government is considering an amendment to the Labor Law that would ease restrictions on the use of FDCs, according to the report, 'Tearing Apart at the Seams: How Widespread Use of Fixed-Duration Contracts Threatens Cambodian Workers and the Cambodian Garment Industry.'

The study warns the widespread use of FDCs could damage the competitiveness of the Cambodian garment industry once it becomes widely known to international buyers that the country is backsliding on workers' rights.

A number of international brands, including Gap, Nike and Wal-Mart, have already expressed concern over the use of FDCs.

And other international apparel buyers and their suppliers are now being urged to take steps to avoid using FDCs for their regular workforce, and to award contracts not just to the lowest-cost producers, but to the lowest-cost rights-friendly producers.

Click here for more details on the research findings.