PHNOM PENH, Nov. 12, (Khmer Times) – The Labor Advisory Council (LAC) has voted to raise the minimum wage to $128 per month for next year, in the face of calls from labor unions for a higher figure.
This morning’s meeting of the LAC, which brings together 28 representatives of the government, garment industry and unions, follows a series of strikes by garment workers demanding higher pay and better working conditions.
Factory owners are hoping that an agreement on a new minimum wage will bring an end to the walkouts, which threaten an industry that employs close on half a million Cambodians and is worth $5 billion annually.
Proposals for the new minimum wage ranged from the $110 offered by the factory owners, the government’s bid of $123, to the $140 demanded by the unions. The government later raised its figure to $128 and the LAC voted by an almost two-thirds majority for that number.
Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng hailed the result, after the LAC met at the Ministry of Labor this morning. “Workers will improve their living conditions, factories will be able to pay and production will increase,” said the minister.
But representatives of the garment unions were disappointed by the outcome of the vote. They said that a monthly wage of $128 does not take into account the rise in the cost of living.
One labor union consultant described the figure as unacceptable and said that he expects a “really strong response” from the garment workers and their unions.”