Education International
Education International

Cambodian unionists do not forget the murder of their leader three years ago

published 19 January 2007 updated 19 January 2007

EI's affiliate in Cambodia, the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA), and the Cambodia trade union centre (FTUWKC, Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia) will mark the third anniversary of the murder of Chea Vichea, the President of the Cambodia trade union centre. He was gunned down on 22 January 2004 in Phnom Penh in connexion with his trade union activities.

Celebrations will be held in Prek Toch pagoda in Prek Koy, in the Saang District of the Kandal Province, starting at 3pm on 20 January.

Implementation of trade union rights is poor in Cambodia. Restrictions on trade union rights for public servants remain in place, and private sector unionists face a gauntlet of police violence, weak law enforcement, and employer impunity. Senior labour leaders are vulnerable to violence and arrest. Rong Chhun, the President of the teacher association CITA was in jail for three months last year, charged with defaming the Prime Minister.

Trade unions raise awareness about the implementation of the labour conventions of the International Labour Organisation. Conventions 87 and 98 about freedom of association and collective bargaining were ratified by the Government in August 1999, but their implementation remains weak.

In addition, civil servants, among them teachers, are not allowed to form and join trade unions.

CITA is registered by the Ministry of Interior as a civic association, but is not recognised by the Ministry of Labour as a trade union.

CITA has repeatedly been harassed and monitored by local public authorities and the police when organising meetings, especially in rural provinces outside the major cities. CITA is not recognised by the government as having the right to collectively bargain on behalf of teachers.

Education International has launched a new programme to assist its member organisations in the region to enhance the enforcement of trade union rights.