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Unionists mull minimum wage increase for 2020

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Ath Thorn, president of the CLC,wants a $25 hike to the minimum wage. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Unionists representing the garment and footwear industry are preparing to call on the government to increase the monthly minimum wage for workers in 2020.

Currently, the minimum wage for garment and footwear factory workers is set at $182.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, yesterday said his union has decided to propose a $25 hike.

“During our unofficial discussions, we planned to request an increase of $25 in the minimum wage,” Mr Thorn said. “We will use this figure when we negotiate.”

He said he will send their recommendation to the Labour Ministry next month.

“Over the last three or four years, the garment and footwear sector has exported more than $10 billion each year, with annual revenue reaching over $100 million,” Mr Thorn said. “I think the garment sector is one of the most potent and leading sectors in Cambodia; both in exports, income and job creation.”

“It is the sector that drives the economy of Cambodia to grow by about six to seven percent,” he added, noting that there are one million garment workers in more than 1,000 factories. “It’s all because of this sector.”

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, yesterday said his union already has a figure in mind.

“I want an $18 increase for our workers in 2020, the current wage is $182 per month,” Mr Saly said. “If they increase it by $18, next year’s minimum wage will be at $200 per month. This is what I want.”

He added that with $200, workers living standard would increase. He noted that workers should avoid working overtime just to make ends meet.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to make a request to the government, and it is a good opportunity for the government to pay attention on the rights of workers because the European Union is monitoring labour rights,” Mr Saly said.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, yesterday said further discussions will need to be held because there are many unions who want different figures.

Mr Sina said he wants the minimum wage to increase by $30.

However, he expressed that the increase would not be enough.

“The increase in minimum wage for garment workers is useless if the price of market products is increasing, too,” he said.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday said that the ministry will issue a reminder about the 2020 minimum wage next month.

“Normally, July is the time each party begins to discuss with each other,” Mr Sour said. “In August, there will be time for bilateral negotiations, while trilateral negotiations will take place in September.”

He said that official results can be expected in October.

“We cannot elaborate yet because there’s no negotiations yet,” Mr Sour said.

According to Article 357 of the Labour Law, the Labour Advisory Committee leads minimum wage discussions and recommends an increment to the government.

The LAC consists of unionists, employers and government officials.

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