ITUC-CC/JILAF Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Cambodia

Scene of the opening ceremony

JILAF held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Phnom Penh on August 30–31 jointly with the Cambodian Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-CC), which consists of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions (CCTU), and the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC).

About 60 persons attended the opening ceremony, including Secretary of State Mam Vannak of the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, who was invited as a guest. The leaders of the three national centers all expressed their gratitude to JILAF and declared that, in light of the importance of social dialogue, they wanted to build constructive and good industrial relations. JILAF Deputy Secretary General Kenji Niizuma then commented that Cambodia, which is currently enjoying economic growth, is going to become increasingly important for Japan and that, although there are problems in the labour environment at present, he hoped the seminar would be useful in building good industrial relations in the future. Next, Secretary of State Mam Vannak, speaking on behalf of Cambodia’s labour minister, also expressed his gratitude to JILAF and, stressing that the present administration has workers in mind, urged trade unions to promote tripartite dialogue among the government, labour, and management, set their house in order, and build good industrial relations.

Following the opening ceremony, there was a panel discussion on social security, with participants recognizing employment security to be a legal condition for labour. JILAF Field Projects Group Director Naohiro Tsuji took the opportunity to give an outline of social security in Japan.

JILAF Deputy Secretary General Niizuma then delivered a lecture titled “Industrial Relations in Japan and the Role of Trade Unions,” through which the participants deepened their understanding of economic development and the transformation of the labour movement in Japan since World War II and the background and reasons why Japanese trade unions have addressed the issue of building constructive industrial relations. As examples of the constructive industrial relations favored by Japanese trade unions, he shared information about such topics as efforts to maintain employment stability centered on the productivity movement, the functions and practice of negotiations and labour-management consultations, the mechanism of the annual spring labour struggle, the tripartite (government-labour-management) social dialogue that supplements the whole, and policymaking activities. As issues facing the Japanese labour movement, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Niizuma mentioned the transition from an “ascending age” of economic growth to a “descending age” of economic stagnation and population decline and stressed that trade unions needed to share visions and objectives and to bolster solidarity.

Next, the leaders of the organizations constituting the ITUC-CC delivered reports on the state of industrial relations in Cambodia, in which they all emphasized constructive industrial relations through dialogue between labour and management and stated that they were in the process of building good relations.

In the morning of the second day, Mr. Nuon Rithy, a labour consultant, gave a practical lecture in which he stressed the necessity of mutual respect in interpersonal relations, teamwork, internal communication, and the observation of social norms as “soft skills” essential to the building of constructive industrial relations.

In the afternoon of the second day, group discussions took place, with the participants splitting up by organization to discuss the issues of social security and constructive industrial relations. They confirmed the present situation and progress of improvements. In response, JILAF commented that although there are many problems, the participants attending the seminar should take a good look at their workplaces, listen carefully to the opinions of union members, and strive to solve the problems and prevent industrial disputes from breaking out. Japan also has problems in industrial relations, JILAF said, “So let’s do our best together.”

At the closing ceremony, the leaders of the three ITUC-CC organizations gave speeches in which they emphasized mutual cooperation, urged the participants to try and improve industrial relations from their respective standpoints, and stressed the importance of union leaders accumulating knowledge. They also expressed their gratitude to JILAF and emphasized the importance of the seminar’s content.

Finally, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Niizuma wrapped up the seminar by saying that while JILAF cannot directly solve the issues, “You can do something if you work together.” Explaining how two national centers with different backgrounds had come together in Japan to form RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), he called on the participants not to give up their belief in the power of solidarity and hope . “As long as you have the will,” he said, “Japanese trade unions will continue to support you.”


08/30ThuSeminar day 1 (Phnom Penh)
08/31FriSeminar day 2 (Phnom Penh)

Photos of the Participants

Address by Secretary of State Mam Vannak

Group photo at the opening ceremony

Panel discussion on social security

Lecture by JILAF Deputy Secretary General Niizuma

Lecture by the International Labour Organization

Group discussions

Group discussions

Group discussions

Comment from JILAF