Role play


This activity was developed by The Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF), a national institution dedicated to resolving collective labour disputes in Cambodia. The following case study scenario is based on an actual industrial labour dispute in Cambodia.

The role play activity aims to:

  • Expose students to an industrial relations problem and have them resolve it collectively
  • Use and develop students’ critical thinking, creativity and team member collaboration skills
  • Expose students to the negotiation environment and develop systematic thinking
  • Provoke students to think beyond each step of decision-making, so they can anticipate the potential impact from each step in their team decision
  • Assist students to engage in self-reflection regarding their group’s position throughout the activity


45mins – 1 hour


  • Map of clothing factory: Map_of_clothing_factory
  • Paper and pens for note taking
  • Provision of ‘break out’ spaces for groups to discuss their tactics in private during negotiation


Case study

In a footwear factory, a group of workers are unhappy because the employer stores the factory waste next to the canteen where the workers have their lunch every day. The waste disposal area mainly consists of fabric, leather, shoe glue and other similar kinds of factory waste. The employer and workers agree that the smell from the waste area is unpleasant particularly to workers who have lunch in the canteen. The workers request the employer to move the waste disposal area away from the canteen. However, the employer is not willing to move the waste disposal area as the factory security guards booth is located near the area and the employer believes this will help prevent unreasonable waste disposal or loss of factory product (in the past a hundred pairs of shoes were reported lost but were found by a security guard in the waste disposal area).

Approximately 60 meters from the canteen is a daycare center and next to that is a big spare room which is a similar size to the canteen. The production building is located roughly 100 meters from the canteen. Generally, when the lunch break commences at 11 am, the workers exit the production building, walk to the main gate and buy their lunch from the food vendors in front of the factory. Then they walk back to have their lunch in the canteen. There is no appropriate seating area outside the company where the food vendors are located.

Note: Students may add additional facts during their preliminary group discussion – but once added, they must continue with these facts to reach the negotiated outcome.


  • Students are divided into two groups: one group represents the ‘employer’ and the other represents the ‘workers’
  • All the students are asked to discuss the fact scenario within their group to protect their collective rights and interests
  • After the discussion, each group selects two ‘representatives’; the two representatives from each group will sit opposite each other and start the negotiation while a facilitator observes. Other students also observe and assist their group representatives when they are in need.
  • At any point, the representatives of each group can ask for a break from negotiation and go back to discuss the matter with, and get further instructions from, their group members; the idea is to allow students to take any time they need to help each other and keep all group members participating and working collectively.
  • After the negotiation, the facilitator provides comments both on positive and negative aspects of the conduct of each team representative and the negotiation result
  • Provide time for self-reflection; ask students about their opinions on the consequences of negotiation whether it is undertaken successfully or not and the reasons behind their thinking

Instruction to Facilitators

  • Determine the maximum duration of negotiation so that it sufficiently covers the actual negotiation, break out session and self-reflective session and inform the students well in advance
  • Students may ‘make up’ additional facts in addition to the above, however, facilitators may alert or guide students if they spend too much time on irrelevant issues
  • Negotiation may finish earlier depending on skills of the negotiation groups
  • Some key feedback points of negotiation:
    • Did the discussion aim to reach a mutually beneficial agreement?
    • Did the discussion increase harmonious relations in the workplace?
    • Did the negotiators effectively represent the needs/wants of their groups?
    • Did parties discuss their interests or only state desired outcomes?
    • Did negotiators demonstrate good communication characteristics, such as: effective speaking and listening, good preparation, managing emotion, cultural awareness, etc.?