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Jun 06, 2017

Formation & Registration of Professional Organizations Under Cambodia’s Trade Union Law

By Vanarith Vo

This article was first published on B2B Cambodia.

The Trade Union Law (“TUL”), initially drafted in 2008, was discussed over an eight year period at numerous consultative meetings involving the Tripartite parties (government officials, employers and employee representatives). The final TUL was promulgated on 17 May 2016 despite some critics and request for further amendment. The ultimate goals of this law are to protect the legitimate rights and interests of all persons under the scope of Cambodia’s labor laws to ensure good work place co-operation, promote harmonious industrial relations. The TUL not only covers the trade unions, but also employer associations.  It outlines many significant updates to the body of labor laws which were originally promulgated in 1997 and amended twenty years later in July 2007. The TUL specifically focuses on the establishment and recognition of professional organization, their execution, roles and representation.

The TUL makes it clear that all workers and employers have, without any distinction whatsoever, the rights to form their own professional organization of their own choice for the exclusive purpose of studying, promoting the interests of and protecting the rights of its members.  Additionally, it represents the moral and material interests both collectively and individually of the persons covered by the organization’s statutes. The TUL specifies that professional organizations of workers are called “Workers’ Unions” and the professional organizations of employers are called “Employers’ Associations”.

The TUL prohibits the combination or intimidation between the worker’s union and employer association. Both work’s union and employer association must always remain an autonomous entity. However, Unions and Employer Association can consult each other regarding the study, research training, occupational promotion and protection of their moral and material interests. All workers and employers, regardless of race, color, sex, creed, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin or health status, have freedom to be a member, not to be a member or withdraw membership of the union or employer association anytime.

Workers and employers are at liberty to form their own organization without any prior authorization or restriction. Once formed, union and employer’s association must register with and seek recognition from Ministry of Labor (“MOLVT”) or Provincial Department of Labor where the union or employer association is located in order to legally enjoy the respective rights and protections.

Further, the TUL imposes a regulatory framework with several requirements that must be met before a union or employer association can receive registration approval from MOLVT or Provincial Department of Labor. The Union has three characteristics: 1) a local union must be comprised of at least 10 workers of a given enterprise or establishment; 2) a union federation must be comprised of at least 7 registered local unions; and 3) a union confederation or a coalition of union federations must be comprised of 5 registered union federations. The Employer Association has two requirements: 1) an employer association must be comprised of at least 9 enterprises or establishments; and, 2) an employer federation must be comprised of at least 6 registered employer associations.

Once the organization is formed, one or all of union or employer association management (including president, vice-president and/or secretary) must directly submit application(s) for registration to be considered for certification.  The following supporting documents must be provided to the MOLVT

  • Statute of Association
  • Administrative Regulation
  • A name list of leaders, managers and those responsible for the administration
  • An address where financial books and records are to be kept
  • An affidavit guaranteeing that its bank account detail will be provided within 45 days following receipt of registration
  • Minutes of election
  • A name list of members as per quota required. 

Upon receiving application, the MOLVT must respond within 30 working days.  If no response or request for extension is made by the MOLVT during the time period, the application for registration must be considered registered. The MOLVT must make a written notification the reason for extended time for the registration within the 30 days during which the union or employer association whose application has been time extended for 30 days from the day of notification is to correct and complete the gap otherwise the application will be automatically denied.

Those unions or employer associations registered before the effect of TUL will continue to be valid until the end of their mandate. However, in order to maintain the approved registration to be valid, each union or employer association must submit their annual financial statement and annual activity report by the end of March of the following year of the enforcement of TUL. In order to continue in good standing, pre-existing unions and employer organizations must re-register their association prior to per the procedure outlined above.

© Sciaroni & Associates 2017

Sciaroni & Associates’ Labor Practice Group has demonstrated expertise advising our clients in all aspects of labor and human resource law in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Our team of expatriate and national advisors and paralegals can help by drafting and reviewing employment policies and agreements and assisting in document registration with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Sciaroni & Associates advises across a broad range of labor and corporate compliance issues while advising on corporate structures that are in keeping with international best practices and prevailing law in Cambodia. 

Sciaroni & Associates, one of Southeast Asia’s leading professional services and investment advisory firms, has been providing skilled counsel and knowledgeable business insights for over two decades. Based in Cambodia with legal offices in  Laos and Myanmar, our experienced team of advisors brings considerable general and sector-specific expertise to the challenges confronting companies doing business in emerging markets.  We are proud that our clients comprise many of the world’s premier companies, banks, financial institutions, governments and global development organizations.

For more information please visit www.sa-asia.com or contact us at info@sa-asia.com

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Sciaroni & Associates is a leading professional and investment advisory firm doing business in Southeast Asia since 1993. Based in Cambodia with legal offices in Laos and Myanmar, we provide experienced advice and business insights to many of the world’s leading companies, governments, economic think tanks, global development funds, international NGOs and the Royal Government of Cambodia in accordance with strict international standards.
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