PM pushes for more minimum wages

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times 1 Comment Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen wants a minimum wage set for the construction sector. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday directed the Labour Ministry, worker representatives, employers and relevant institutions to work together toward setting a minimum wage for workers in the construction, agriculture and service sectors.

“On December 10, the International Human Rights Day, we have received requests through the petitions of some unions to ask us to set the minimum wage for workers who work in the sectors of construction and others, which previously we just set for only the garment and footwear industry,” Mr Hun Sen said while meeting more than 17,600 workers from 23 factories and enterprises in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district.

“So, we should move to set the minimum wage for the other sectors as well,” Mr Hun Sen said. “I am seeking a minimum wage for the other sectors so that we know what workers in the Kingdom are earning and also to stop any exploitation of workers.”

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Civil society and union leaders yesterday lauded the prime minister’s push to prepare the setting of a minimum wage for the other sectors besides the garment and footwear industries.

Vun Samphors, the Cambodian Domestic Worker Network president, said yesterday that she was happy to hear that the Prime Minister is concerned about the difficulties domestic workers face in the country.

“I think it is very good news for domestic workers that the prime minister is paying attention to their needs,” she said. “Domestic workers now receive wages through oral negotiations with house owners because we do not have any policy to set a minimum wage for this sector yet.”

Ms Samphors noted that domestic workers receive differing salaries with some getting $80, $150 or $280 and others more than $300.

“We want the government to set the wage to more than $250 per month for maids, so that they can support their families,” Ms Samphors said. “Domestic workers work longer hours than those in other sectors and sometimes they work 24 hours without being paid overtime unlike garment workers.”

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She noted that there are about 250,000 domestic workers in the Kingdom.

Sok Kin, Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia president, also welcomed to Mr Hun Sen’s push to have a minimum wage for workers in his sector.

He said that construction workers also individually negotiate wages with employers just like domestic workers.

“There are between 250,000 and 260,000 construction workers throughout the country,” Mr Kin said, adding that construction is the second priority sector in Cambodia after the garment industry.

Theng Savoeun, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community president, yesterday said that it is good if the government and stakeholders set the minimum wage for farmers and workers in agriculture sector.

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“I hope the matter will be discussed in detail between the community and the relevant institutes before a minimum wage is set,” he said. “I am now researching into how much farmers and workers in the agriculture sector should get.”

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1 Comment

  1. What would be better than raising the minimum wage by $X/week? A punitive #VacancyTax / #VacantLandTax, which property owners are so keen to avoid that it *reduces rents* by $X/week. Why would this be better? Because:
    (1) When you allow for income tax (and income-tested welfare, where applicable), a dollar *saved* is worth much more than a dollar *earned*.
    (2) By definition, the benefit of lower rents, unlike the benefit of higher wages, isn’t competed away in higher rents. Indeed, if landlords know that wages have risen by $X/week, they may try to raise rents by the whole $X/week, not allowing for what is clawed back through the tax-welfare system.
    (3) Nobody says lower rents would price workers out of a job! On the contrary, the scramble to avoid the vacancy tax would *create* jobs; and lower rents by themselves would create jobs, because jobs can’t exist unless (a) the employers can afford business accommodation, and (b) the employees can afford housing within reach of their jobs, on wages that the employers can pay. (Note the implication that the tax should apply to both commercial and residential property.)
    (4) Why should employers pay for a problem caused by land-hoarders?
    (5) The economic activity driven by a vacancy tax would broaden the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced, so that the rest of us would pay less tax!