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Abusive rent hikes offset minimum wage gains

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Pav Sina
Union leader Pav Sina. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers has collected workers’ complaints regarding abusive rent hikes and will send a report to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

CUMW’s Pav Sina yesterday said he asked workers and unions across the Kingdom to report cases where rent is increased by more than $5.

“We already have complaints from some workers who say their landlord will increase the rent next year. This is happening as the new minimum wage increases to $190 in 2020,” Mr Sina said.

He lamented that rent and utility costs are increasing considerably while the minimum wage will only increase marginally.

Mr Sina said in 2020 the minimum wage will be bumped up by just $8, which, in the case of many workers, will be completely offset by hikes in rent and utility costs.

“I will send this information to Prime Minister Hun Sen. I think he will take action to help workers,” said Mr Sina. “I will not send this report to a ministry because then the issue will not be solved.”

In October, Mr Hun Sen asked landlords to refrain from increasing rents.

“If you really want to increase it, please do not do so by more than $2 per month,” Mr Hun Sen said at the time.

Mr Sina posted a video on his Facebook page on Tuesday after workers sent the complaints.

“I think if all unions work together on this issue, the problem can be easily solved,” Mr Sina said.

The video shows a landlord telling her tenants that she will increase rent next month regardless of whether or not their salary is increased.

“I want to tell all of you here that next year I will increase rent by $5 to $35. If you cannot afford it, it is not my problem,” the landlord said.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday told Khmer Times that the ministry will ask Phnom Penh City Hall and district authorities to inspect cases where landlords are unfairly raising the rent.

He said the law stipulates that landlords cannot increase rent drastically.

“Authorities will go to houses where tenants have complained to assess the situation,” Mr Sour said.

Him Sokroeun, a worker in a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, yesterday said that her landlord has not announced a rent hike yet.

She says she is paying $35 per month in rent, a price that she can barely afford.

“If my rent is increased by more than $5, I will have to move out because I won’t be able to pay,” said Ms Sokroeun. “If it only increases by one or two dollars, I will be ok.”

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