The Arbitration Council was established by the 1997 Labor Law. However, the Arbitration Council just opened its doors to serve employers, employees, workers and trade unions in May 2003. As prescribed in Article 317 of the Labor Law, the organization and functioning of the Arbitration Council was defined by a circular (Prakas) issued by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
The Council’s work is supported by the Arbitration Council Foundation. Composed of departments of Finance and Administration, Legal Services and Training, Monitoring & Evaluation and Communication, the Foundation is mandated to provide technical and management support to the Council. The Arbitration Council is funded partly by the government through the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, and also through the ILO and other international agencies.1 Since the amendment of the Trade Union Law, the number of case held by the Arbitration Council has decreased, which led to a decrease in international donations.2
Members of the Council are selected from among judges, members of the Labor Advisory Committee, and other qualified people listed by the ministry.3 Both employers and employees in disputes choose one arbitrator each, and these two selected arbitrators choose the third arbitrator. The arbitrators hear the cases and issue arbitral awards on behalf of the Council. Generally, an arbitral award is issued within 15 working days counting from the date the Council receives a case.4
Between its launch in May 2003 until December 2018, the Arbitration Council received 2,765 cases.5 From 2011 to 2016 the average time taken to resolve a case was 17.6 days.6 The resolution through arbitral award after the hearing requires sufficient time for comprehensive research, law analysis, and award writing. Therefore, settling disputes by arbitral award averagely took 22 days in 2018 while it was 17 days in 2017.7
Average working days took to resolve dispute cases by the Arbitration Council8:
|Average resolution working days||19.8||17.5||17.5||16.4||16.9||17.7||17||22|
The Council claimed a 78 percent success rate in 2016,9 where the council:
- facilitated an agreement between the parties to settle the dispute, or
- issued an award that was fully/substantially implemented to resolve the dispute, or
- issued an award which formed the basis for a settlement between parties that resolved the dispute.
Reinstatement has been the most common issue taken to the Council: it accounted for 44 percent of cases in 201612 and over two-thirds of the cases in the first half of 2017.13 But the food/meal allowance has become the top dispute case registered at the Council in 2018. In a similar way, reinstatement and termination compensation disputes still remain as the outstanding issues.14 However, other issues of safety and health at work such as poor working environments (air and light problems), fainting and fire are often reported by news media, NGOs and international organizations.15
The number of labor dispute cases received by the Council have been changed at a noticeable rate during the period of 2016 to 2018. The Council received just 50 cases in 2017 compared to 248 in 2016.18 However, the trend raised up to 59 cases with a sharp rise to 13 disputes cases in December 2018.19 The Arbitration Council Foundation noted that the decline follows the adoption in 2016 of the Law on Trade Unions. Under this law, collective disputes can only be referred to the Council by unions holding ‘most representative status’, or unions or workers who are recognized by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training or a provincial Labour Department.
Last updated: 29 August 2019
- 1. Sean Teehan. “Arbitration’s cost and value.” The Phnom Penh Post, June 23, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2015. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/arbitration%E2%80%99s-cost-and-value
- 2. Voun Dara. “Sweden government grants $268,000 for arbitration work.” The Phnom Penh Post, March 7, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019. https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/sweden-government-grants-268000-arbitration-work
- 3. Article 311, Labor Law. https://opendevelopmentcambodia.net/dataset/?id=06fb88cf-cfe1-4d37-9e62-fde32228fc4a
- 4. The Arbitration Council. “Arbitration hearing process.” Accessed August 21, 2019. http://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/en/resources/hearing-process/arbitration-hearing-process
- 5. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016” and “Resolving labor disputes by The Arbitration Council”. Accessed August 21, 2019. https://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/download/annual-report-2016/?wpdmdl=2841&refresh=5d64e7a76c28c1566893991 and http://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/en/post/99/Resolving-Labour-Disputes-by-Arbitration-Council
- 6. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016”. Op. cit.
- 7. The Arbitration Council. “Resolving labor disputes by the Arbitration Council”. Op. cit.
- 8. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016” and “Resolving labor disputes by The Arbitration Council”. Op. cit.
- 9. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016”. Op. cit.
- 10. The Arbitration Council. “Resolving labour disputes by the Arbitration Council: Two ways in resolving disputes” and “Annual report 2016”. Op. cit.
- 11. The strike data based on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) as cited in Better Factories Cambodia, Annual report 2018: An industry and compliance review. Phnom Penh: Better Factories Cambodia, 2018, page 9. Accessed August 15, 2019. https://betterwork.org/blog/portfolio/better-factories-cambodia-annual-report-2018-an-industry-and-compliance-review
- 12. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016”. Op. cit.
- 13. The Arbitration Council. “AC Newsletter January–June 2017”. Accessed 3 November 2017. http://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/en/media/publications/quarterly-newsletters .
- 14. The Arbitration Council. “Resolving labour disputes by the Arbitration Council: Two ways in resolving disputes”. Op. cit.
- 15. For the details regarding fainting and its causes, see Anna McMullen. Shop ‘til they drop. Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) and Labour Behind the Label (LBL). Accessed May 20, 2015. http://www.clec.org.kh/web/images/Resources/Res_shoptiltheydropfinal1379567132.pdf; also, Better Factories Cambodia (BFC). “New study finds high levels of anemia, food insecurity, among Cambodian garment workers.” Accessed May 20, 2015. https://opendevelopmentcambodia.net/announcements/new-study-finds-high-levels-of-anemia-food-insecurity-among-cambodian-garment-workers/. For the issue of fire and safety system, see Better Factories Cambodia (BFC). Fire and life safety risk profiles in Cambodia garment and footwear industry. BFC: Phnom Penh, December 2014. Accessed May 20, 2015. https://opendevelopmentmekong.net/dataset?id=cambodia-garment-and-footwear-industry-fire-and-life-safety-risk-profile
- 16. The Arbitration Council. “Annual Report 2016” and “Resolving labor disputes by The Arbitration Council”. Accessed August 21, 2019. https://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/download/annual-report-2016/?wpdmdl=2841&refresh=5d64e7a76c28c1566893991
- 17. The Arbitration Council. “Resolving labor disputes by the Arbitration Council”. Accessed August 21, 2019. http://www.arbitrationcouncil.org/en/post/99/Resolving-Labour-Disputes-by-Arbitration-Council
- 18. The Arbitration Council. “AC Newsletter January–June 2017”. Op. cit.
- 19. The Arbitration Council. “Resolving labour disputes by the Arbitration Council: Two ways in resolving disputes”. Op. cit.