Tripartite Study Tour from Cambodia to South Africa on Industrial Relations and Collective Bargaining

A Tripartite Study Tour from Cambodia to South Africa on Industrial Relations and Collective Bargaining was organized jointly by ILO’s Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains (LSGSC) project and Cambodia’s Arbitration Council in November 2018.


One of the key goals of the LSGSC project is to strengthen the capacity of ILO’s tripartite constituents in Cambodia to engage in collective bargaining and social dialogue, particularly in respect of Cambodia’s garment sector. Towards this goal, the objective of the Study Tour was to provide an opportunity for ILO’s constituents in Cambodia to examine comparative international examples of the legal and institutional frameworks governing industrial relations in South Africa, with a focus on sectoral-level collective bargaining and the prevention and resolution of industrial disputes.


The Study Tour delegation comprised of nine representatives of Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), trade unions that represent workers in the garment sector, and Cambodia’s Arbitration Council. The Study Tour succeeded in supporting the delegation to develop a shared understanding of the comparative industrial relations context and systems in South Africa, its key achievements and challenges, lessons learned, and good practices that may be applicable in the context of industrial relations in the garment sector in Cambodia.


The Study Tour programme included first-hand exchange and interaction with representatives of key collective bargaining and industrial relations stakeholders in South Africa, and the opportunity for participants to observe and learn from illustrative and informative practices that may inform collective bargaining and industrial relations in Cambodia, particularly in respect of the garment sector. In particular, the Study Tour programme included a series of meetings with senior representatives of South Africa’s Department of Labour (DOL) and National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), and a site-visit to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The delegation also participated in a training workshop on sectoral-level collective bargaining focused on two comparative cases studies from South Africa: The National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry (NBCCMI) and the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI).


An evaluation conducted with the delegation indicated a high level of satisfaction amongst participants that the goals of the Study Tour had been successfully met. Participants agreed that the Study Tour had met their learning expectations, and delivered positive learning outcomes that contributed to a stronger shared understanding of comparative industrial relations and sectoral-level collective bargaining challenges and opportunities. The site visit to the CCMA, the opportunity to participate in a practical demonstration of an industrial dispute case management system, and the opportunity to observe a real life conciliation hearing were particularly appreciated by participants. Participants indicated that they were impressed by the degree of tripartite engagement and the level of independence of the relevant public institutions in South Africa. In addition, participants indicated that Study Tour had supported them to develop cross-institutional relationships with counterpart constituent host organizations in South Africa, and deepen positive working relationships with co-delegate constituents from Cambodia.

Next steps

All participants indicated that the Study Tour had provided beneficial support to their further engagements in Cambodia. Applying the learning outcomes of the Study Tour to the task of addressing current industrial relations challenges and opportunities Cambodia, the delegation identified the following priorities for future action: Transparent system of trade union registration; Independent representative trade unions that are accountable to their members; Credible and streamlined processes to verify trade union membership; Legal mechanisms to extend collective bargaining agreements; and the need to bolster compliance and enforcement.