Labor Conference at the Sunway Hotel 22-23 July 2010: Agenda and Concept

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Labor Conference Agenda
July 22 to 23 2010
Sunway Hotel

July 22 – Thursday

7:30 am – 8am: Registration

National Anthem

8:10 am to 8:25 am: Overview of the Cambodia Trade Union History – Noun Vesna, Consultant and Labor Academician

8:30am to 9:00 am: Opening Speakers
  • Mr. Ath Thorn – President of Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC)
  • Mr. Vong Sovann – President of Cambodian Confederation of Trade Union (CCTU)
  • Mrs. Morn Nhim – President of Cambodian National Confederation (CNC)
  • Mr. Apolinar “Dong”Tolentino – Regional Representative of Building Woodworkers International (BWI), Asia Pacific Region
  • Mr. Floro Francisco – Regional Consultant for LO-Norway
9:00 am to 9:30 am: Labor Conference Concept Presentation: Mr. Alonzo Suson, Country Program Director of Solidarity Center, AFL-CIO

9:45 to 10:00 am: Break

10:00am to 10:45am: Panel: Trade Unions Formed During the Socialist Era: Past/Present:
  • Mrs. Tep Kimvanary, President of Cambodian Federation Independent Trade Union (CFITU)
  • Mr. Choun Mom Thol, President of Cambodian Union Federation (CUF)
  • Mr. Noun Vesna, Consultant and Labor Academician
10:45 to 12pm – Small group discussion

12:00pm to 1:00pm: Lunch

1:00pm to 1:45pm: Panel Discussion: Trade Unions Formed During the Post-Socialist Era: The “Oppositionist” and the “Third Current”
  • Mr. Rong Chhun, President of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA)
  • Mrs. Morm Nhim, President of National Independent Federation of Trade Union Congress (NIFTUC)
  • Mr. An Nan, former staff of the Cambodia Labour Organization (CLO)
  • Mr. Noun Rithy, former National Project Coordinator, ILO-WEP
2:00 pm to 3:00pm: Small group discussion

3:00pm to 3:15pm: Break

3:15 to 4pm: Panel Discussion –Trade Union Solidarity Support Organizations and their role
  • Mr. Kao Poeun, Project Officer for LO-FTF (Danish Unions)
  • Mr. Kenya Popaine, Coordinator for TWARO
  • Mrs. Meas Morokot, President, CWMO
  • Mr. Lim Soksan, Program Coordinator, APHEDA
4pm to 5pm: Small group discussion

July 23, Friday

7:30am to 8am: Registration

8am to 9 am: Panel: Struggle-Unity-Struggle: Trade Union Experiences From Other Countries
  • Dr. Kun Wardana Abyoto, Director, UNI Asia Pacific Regional Organization
  • Mr. Apolinar “Dong” Tolentino – Regional Representative of Building Woodworkers International (BWI), Asia Pacific Region
  • Mr. Don Driscoll, Coordinator, Service Employees International Union
  • Mr. Floro Francisco, Consultant, LO-Norway (Norwegian Unions)
  • Mr. Rey Rasing, Coordinator, Global Network/International Federation of Workers Education Association
9am to 10am: Questions and Answers

10am to 10:15am: Break

10:15 to 11am: Panel: Present Challenges: Minimum Wage, Decent Trade Union Law, Occupational Health and Safety (Awka Nyum – Opportunism and SamakiPheap-Solidarity)
  • Mr. Chhiev Veyara, National Project Coordinator, ILO-Dispute Resolution Project
  • Mr. Ath Thorn – President of Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC)
  • Mr. Van Thol – Vice President of Building Woodworker Trade Union Confederation (BWTUC)
11am to 12pm: Small group discussion

12pm to 1pm: Lunch

1pm to 2pm: Plenary Session: Issues that the Cambodian Labor Movement Need to Work Together in the Interest of Workers and Cambodian Society. Principles for Working Together Despite Our Differences: Presentations and Facilitations by:
  • Mr. Tola Moeun- Head of Labor Project, Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
  • Mr. Yim Serey Vathanak- National Project Coordinator, ILO-Workers Education Project (ILO-WEP)
2p to 3pm: Small group discussion

3pm to 3:15pm: Break

3:15pm to 3:45pm: Report back of small group discussion

3:45pm to 4:00pm: Affirmation: Where we agree and where we disagree.

4:00pm to 5pm: Closing Speakers:
  • Mr. Vong Sovann, President, Cambodian Confederation of Trade Union
  • Dr. Kun Wardana Abyoto, Director, UNI Asia Pacific Regional Organization
  • Mr. Reynaldo Rasing, Coordinator, Global Network/IFWEA
  • Mr. Yeng Virak, Director, Community Education Labor Center (CLEC)
Conference Concept:

The year 2010 marks a decade of growth for the modern Cambodian Labor Movement. By year 2000, five union federations were established and formed. Now forty-nine labor federations and associations were formed and the majority of those unions are in the garment industry.

Similarly, the trade union support organizations in Cambodia and Global Unions partnership with Cambodian unions has increased in their activities, and put in place programs that will further assist the growth and maturity of the Cambodian Trade Unions and Cambodian Labor Movement as a whole.

Politically, a Trade Union Law drafted by the Ministry of Labour with technical assistance from the ILO is currently being circulated, discussed and debated with the goal of Trade Union Law being ratified with the National Assembly by Mid-2011.

The Cambodian Garment Industry has been hit hard by the global economic crisis as orders from the US and European country has declined. Garment workers saw some of the factories closed down, suspended work or maintain limited working time while the cost of living continues to increase. The trade unions last negotiated a minimum wage increased in 2006. The majority of unions came together with the assistance of TWARO and ILO-WEP and attempted to negotiate a minimum wage with garment industry representative. Unilateral decision by the government to recommend a minimum wage, the coalition of unions fell apart without a discussion and without negotiation with the industry. The trust level amongst the unions is at an all time low.

Workers (union member and non-union members), local and federation leaders, and trade union support group activists’ states that the current union leadership consciously or not, acts more in their self interest than the interest of the workers they represent. In a social and political context this acts of self-interest is known as opportunism(1). In short, opportunism whether from the right or left perspective is a disease within the Cambodian Labor Movement that need to be challenge, spotlighted and critique to be replace by the acts of labor solidarity needed to mature the movement.

The conference will highlight what is opportunism within the Cambodian Labor Movement; review the union formation in Cambodia, review the trade union support programs in Cambodia. What is labor solidarity and in particular how should trade unions shown solidarity in the context of the minimum wage negotiation (lessons learned) and the debate on the trade union law, and the future challenges for the Cambodian Labor Movement in developing solidarity.

With the coming decade, it is opportune time to have discussion amongst Cambodian and foreign trade unionists and activists in the trade union support group to assess the development of the Cambodian Labor Movement. Acknowledge our differences in terms orientation and politics, and by challenging each other about the future by raising the question of what is a mature Cambodian Labor Movement. The conference does not and will not answer all the questions. But hopefully a framework on how the Cambodian Labor Movement debate, argue, critique, build coalition and separate can be done in a principled way be achieved.

(1) Opportunism is the “conscious “policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstance, with little regard for principles. The opportunist seeks to gain personal advantage at every opportunity, putting self-interest ahead of the greater good


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