Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned workers that an unreasonable increase in the minimum wage could drive companies to bankruptcy and out of the country.
In a speech to thousands of garment workers in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen said that there are impacts to increasing the minimum wage.
“Employers won’t stay if the price of labour is expensive,” Mr Hun Sen said. “There’s no way they could endure to stay if the minimum wage continues to increase. Be reasonable for your employers because if they go bankrupt, they will move to another location.”
The minimum wage for garment, textile and footwear workers was set at $170 for 2018.
The Labour Ministry and relevant parties started talks on the minimum wage for 2019 earlier this month.
“All parties have to use social criteria such as family status, inflation rates, living expenses and economic criteria” when determining what the new wage should be, a ministry announcement following the first meeting with employers and unions said.
“The economic criteria includes productivity, the country’s competitiveness, labour market conditions, profit margins and the poverty level,” it added.
Mr Hun Sen noted yesterday that the minimum wage in Bangladesh is $67; Sri Lanka $140; India $143; Myanmar $108; Vietnam $175 and in Laos $133.
He said the Ministry of Labour, unions and employers must work together to come up with a reasonable minimum wage agreement for 2019, noting that companies often bear the financial burden when they’re forced to increase workers’ wages.
“Don’t kill the hen, please keep the hen for its eggs,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Mr Hun Sen also said the government has spent $22 million to compensate factory workers whose owners have fled.
He also noted that the government has been forcing factory owners to pay indemnity in order to avoid problems.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said yesterday that his organisation has been planning to conduct its own study to bring to the table at the minimum wage meetings.
“The union is conducting our own survey on cost of living and plans to hold discussions with international unions later this month,” Mr Thorn said.