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Hun Sen defends lower minimum wage hike

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
A woman stands outside a row of rooms used by garment workers. KT/Siv Channa

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on garment factory workers to understand why the hike in the minimum wage next year is not as high as previous raises.


The government has increased the wage for next year by $8, a decrease of $4 when compared to the hike provided for 2019.

The National Committee for Minimum Wage agreed to determine $187 as the minimum wage last month and Mr Hun Sen then added $3. The current minimum wage is $182 per month, an increase of $12 when compared to last year’s $170.

Mr Hun Sen yesterday said during a university graduation ceremony at Koh Pich Exhibition Centre that the garment sector in the Kingdom needs to be competitive to succeed.

“I want to say thanks for the Labour Ministry’s tripartite working group that negotiated on behalf of garment workers. It was able to increase 2020’s minimum wage from $182 to $190,” he said. “For 2019, the minimum wage increased by $12, but for 2020, the increase is only $8 because neighbouring countries, who are our competitors, pay less than us.”

According to Mr Hun Sen, garment factory workers in Bangladesh make $90 per month, while those in Laos and Myanmar earn $135 and $120, respectively.

“We are concerned that [our] factories will move to those countries because the minimum wage is lower,” he added. “Please understand this, factory workers.”

Mr Hun Sen also said landlords who rent out rooms to garment workers must refrain from increasing rent prices.

“I want to call on all rental house owners to not over-increase the rent,” he said. “If they truly want to increase the price, do not increase it by more than $2.”

He added that officials in charge of providing water and electricity to garment workers must also adjust prices accordingly.

Soy Say, 23, a garment worker from Takeo province, employed in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, yesterday said he and a roommate pay $45 for their room, but he is concerned about an increase in rent.

“After our minimum wage increased [last year], the owner of my rented room increased the price by $5,” Mr Say said. “I’m afraid she will do the same for next year.”

He said landlords should follow Mr Hun Sen’s lead.

“A $2 increase is reasonable,” Mr Say said. “But, I am concerned that landlords will not listen to the government.”

Rong Odom, a property owner who rents out 10 of these rooms to workers in Kandal province, yesterday said he will not increase the price of his rooms next year.

“I will not increase the price for next year, regardless of the minimum wage increase. It’s because I think my price is already suitable,” Mr Odom said, noting that he charges $30 per month for one unfurnished room.

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, yesterday said landlords should understand that this year’s increase is lower than last year’s.

“I think landlords should understand about the workers’ situation,” Mr Saly said. “They should refrain from increasing the price so workers can save money to improve their living standards.”

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