The government yesterday held a press conference to defend its track record on labour rights by highlighting better livelihoods and minimum wages for workers.
Nguy Rith, under secretary of state at the Labour Ministry, said the minimum wage for workers is now $182 per month, while there are 4,838 unions registered with the ministry.
Mr Rith noted that there are 1.2 million migrant workers abroad who annually send home $200 million to their families.
He said the government has been taking care of them by improving labour conditions, hygiene, security, canteens, and their health in factories.
“We created an inspection group and the National Social Security Fund to insure workers,” Mr Rith said. “The government will create pensions for employees, too.”
He added that workers now have the proper skills to work.
“We still lack high level skills, but garment workers have enough skills to work,” Mr Rith said.
He noted that the government encourages workers to go abroad.
“This is job market freedom. We have a job market here, but we are encouraging workers to also work abroad,” Mr Rith said. “It is their right to choose. Sometimes, they consider working abroad – in a developed country – they can send their money home and improve their family’s livelihood.”
He noted that the Labour Ministry has 13 job centres throughout the country.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that from 2014 to last year, there were 959 new investments worth $23 billion. Mr Siphan said the investments created one million jobs for Cambodians. He noted that during the first two months of this year, there were 73 new investments worth $2.2 billion.
“The government tries to position factories in the provinces so jobs can be given to people in rural areas,” he said. “The government wants to increase the livelihoods of rural area people to be the same as people in the city.”
Som Oun, president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia, said unions played a role in ushering in labour rights. Mr Oun said there are now more than 4,000 unions in the Kingdom.
He said minimum wages for workers have increased by more than 10 times, from what used to be $30 to the $182 today.
“The government is not against the creation of a union,” Mr Oun said. “Workers have the right to unionise as long as they respect the law.”
“As for the increasing minimum wage, the government increases it depending on factors such as families, the economy and productivity,” he added. “It doesn’t increase much per year because if we do it too suddenly, it will affect businesses.”