Response to the Carlsberg statement issued on February 9, 2016


Response to the Carlsberg statement issued on February 9, 2016

Carlsberg’s statement from February 9 is a misleading and dishonest response to the issues at stake in the Angkor beer conflict. The statement is yet another testimony to how Carlsberg /Cambrew breaks the labour law, ignores the labour arbitration council rulings and continues to use a company controlled “union” to undermine genuine union rights.

Carlsberg/Cambrew has failed to comply with their own code of conduct as well as with their commitments as a member of Beer Selling Industry Cambodia (BSIC). For years, every concession that Carlsberg/Cambrew has made to improve labour conditions has been followed by renewed efforts to undermine the independent union.

This time active trade unionists have been illegally dismissed, and instead of engaging in dialogue Carlsberg/Cambrew has unilaterally escalated the conflict by enforcing late working hours which further increases the risk of violence and harassment facing the beer promoters.

For a background to the conflict please see previous statements of CFSWF and from our global union such as IUF.

  1. In their statement Carlsberg claims that the dismissed trade unionists resigned voluntarily. This is not true, instead Carlsberg/Cambrew singled out active unionists and denied them a chance to go back to work after the arbitration council ordered work to resume while awaiting an arbitration council process. When returning to work on January 22, those of the workers who first went out on strike found their photos posted on the wall and they were denied entry

The abuse of short-duration contacts has been subject to previous arbitration council ruling 336/14 telling Carlsberg/Cambrew to abide by the law and give the workers non-fix duration contracts. Instead of respecting the ruling, Carlsberg/Cambrew in January tried to force workers to accept new, unlawful fixed duration contracts.

The labour law, ILO Recommendation 166(1982), and Arbitration Council Judgments all prescribe that after two years of fixed duration employment workers have the automatic right to unfixed duration contracts. The fired unionists have all been employed for longer than two years therefore should have been on unfixed contracts. Carlsberg’s statement verifies their abuse of fixed-duration contracts when it states “The employment contract for beer promotion assistants is a one-year fixed contract which is renewed upon mutual confirmation.”

Instead of accepting our request for dialogue, Carlsberg/Cambrew choose to escalate the conflict further by introducing new, late working hours. This was completely contrary to previous commitment to addressing the hazardous working environment facing beer promotion workers when working late nights.

  1. Carlsberg claims that the introduction of new, later working hours was preceded by consultations with workers. This is not true, as proven by documentation shared with the Labour Arbitration Council by Carlsberg/Cambrew itself(attached).

Carlsberg’s statement claims:

“In terms of the recent standardization of contracts for beer promotion assistants employed by Cambrew, several talks between management, shop stewards and majority of unions in Cambodia were conducted prior to the standardization. The parties negotiated and reached an agreement regarding the change of working hours to 16:00-23:00 for all beer promotion assistants.”

We notice that the Carlsberg statement does not refer to any union by name this time, unlike previous statements, but instead refers to” talks between management, shop stewards and majority of unions in Cambodia”.

As a proof of its claim Carlsberg/Cambrew submitted meeting minutes from an alleged meeting with union representatives. The names and positions of the participants in the company and as well as their position in “union” are listed in the minutes. As can be seen in the attached document It shows that all the so called union representatives also have management positions in the company. It could not be any clearer that this is not an independent union. Historically Carlsberg statements have claimed that this company union have “98%” membership (attached). The minutes also prove that CFSWF was not at the meeting.

In addition, Carlsberg/Cambrew submitted a copy of a letter from the leadership of the yellow union, Trade Union Workers of Progressive Democracy (English translation) to the company director expressing support for the changes. It also submitted a separate letter from the company management expressing support. Again, the letters prove that the so called union representatives are all management levels in the company.

Carlsberg/Cambrew has earlier claimed that they have finger-print evidence of members voluntarily joining the union. However, there have never been any elections of the so call union representatives to the so called union and neither have the workers chosen to become members of this company controlled organisation. Never has the “union” brought up any complaints or any cases of trying to address problems on behalf of the workers they claim to represent.

CFSWF can prove that Progressive Worker Union is yellow or company controlled union therefore any claim by Cambrew and this union of negotiation and consultation and acceptance of the new working hours is meaningless as well as a violation of international labour standards on freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. In addition, Cambrew has engaged in intentional gender discrimination targeting one union leader who are pregnant and other union activists who are working mothers with young families.

We demand that Carlsberg immediately stops their union busting, abide by their code of conduct, and comply with Cambodian Labour Law, ILO recommendations and conventions.

  • Reinstates the fired workers without any loss of pay.
  • Respect the labour law and offer unfixed duration contracts to workers who are entitled to this status.
  • Genuinely recognise CFSWF in line with earlier promises and not exclude CFSWF from workplace consultation.
  • Immediately enter into negotiations with CFSWF about the working hours, wages, and working conditions
  • Guarantee workplace neutrality and non-interference in CFSWF representing its members and other workers.


  1. Arbitration Council judgement (Copy of the original in Khmer and with English translation)
  2. BSIC Code of Conduct
  3. Minutes from an alleged meeting to discuss new working hours. (Copy of the original in Khmer and with English translation)
  4. A letter from the yellow union leadership expressing support for the changes. (Khmer original and English translation)
  5. A letter from some management, expressing support for the changes. The names overlap with those in the mails from the so called union leadership. (Khmer original and English translation).
  6. A letter from Shop Steward, expressing support for the changes (all of them are manager in company)
  7. Statement from Carlsberg claiming that the yellow union has 97% membership rate.
  8. A report describing the previous history of union busting at Carlsberg/Cambrew
  9. Carlsberg Statement Respond in February 2016




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