Negotiations to determine 2019’s minimum wage for garment workers began at the Labour Ministry yesterday with the issue of worker welfare as the first order of business, the Labour Advisory Committee said.
The LAC said in a joint statement that government officials, employers and worker unions are looking to agree on a reasonable number.
“Members will continue to meet and raise issues of family, inflation and spending,” the statement added.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng, who signed the joint statement, said yesterday that the negotiations are expected to conclude by early October.
“I hope that the meetings will also focus on economic and societal situations,” Mr Samheng said. “I hope it could finish before Phcum Ben.”
Nang Sothy, an employer representative, yesterday said negotiations between all parties have so far been smooth.
“The negotiations haven’t presented any problems,” Mr Sothy said. “The garment sector is growing and there have been little to no protests by workers lately.”
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said no party has agreed on an amount yet, but noted that workers can expect the minimum wage to be at least $200 next year.
“Unions will meet again to suggest the official recommended figure on Thursday,” Mr Thorn said.
The minimum wage for garment workers rose to $170 this year, about a ten percent increase from $153 in 2017.
However, workers were recently warned that drastically increasing wages again could have unintended consequences.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that an unreasonable increase would only drive companies out of the country. “Employers won’t stay if the price of labour is expensive,” Mr Hun Sen said. “There’s no way companies could endure if wages keep increasing.”
“Don’t kill the hen, please keep the hen for its eggs,” Mr Hun Sen added.