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Unionists Snub Proposed Minimum Wage Hike

Union leaders balked at the government’s proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage for workers in the garment industry to $160 within three years. 

“The proposed increase is just a way for the ruling party to get more votes,” said Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union. 

He said proposed wage does not account for inflation nor ensure that workers have a decent living standard. “Prices in the market are already high, and wages have not kept pace,” he added.

Mr. Thun’s comments came in response to a speech by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on the final day of a three-day congress for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The minister said Prime Minister Hun Sen had called for increasing the minimum wage of garment workers to $160 per month by 2018.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor agreed to raise the minimum wage by 28 percent to $128 last November, falling short of union workers’ demands.

Local Gas Prices Continue Downward

Gas retailers have responded to the latest government request to drop prices at the pump in response to falling oil prices. On Friday, the Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol met with the nation’s gas retailers, urging them to reduce their price to 3,800 riels ($0.94) per liter, 100 riels lower than during its previous meeting in January.

Sokimex and Tela responded to the minister’s by dropping the price of regular gasoline over the weekend to 3,800 riels per liter, the Commerce Ministry noted in a statement. Foreign petroleum firms Total, Caltex and PTT did not respond immediately, it added.

In January, the Commerce Ministry said it would meet with representatives of the country’s fuel distributors every 10 days to review domestic fuel prices and ensure they reflect changes in world oil prices.

Boosting Trade with Canada

A delegation of Canadian businessmen has concluded a visit to Cambodia aimed at exploring opportunities to bolster trade and economic relations between the two countries. The group, which included executives from eight Canadian companies, met with dozens of Cambodian companies and government trade officials.

“The trade mission is to strengthen economic and trade relations between the two countries and to explore possibility for cooperation between Canadian and Cambodian companies,” said Philip Calvert, Canada’s regional ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Canada is the sixth largest export destination for Cambodia, representing about 5.3 percent of the Kingdom’s total exports, according to Ok Boung, Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce. Cambodia exported products worth $698 million to Canada last year, mainly garments and footwear. 

The visiting delegation said it hoped to broaden the trade portfolio and expressed interest in Cambodian agricultural goods.

In related news, Ambassador Calvert announced that Canada will establish a local representative office in Cambodia to facilitate bilateral trade and strengthen political relations. 

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