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Unions prepare to negotiate minimum wage

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
KT/Chor Sokunthea

Unions are preparing to meet with Labour Ministry officials later this month to discuss the minimum wage in the garment sector for 2020.

Last month, unions, Labour Ministry officials and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia held individual meetings on the minimum wage. On August 29, unions and GMAC representatives are expected to separately meet Labour Ministry officials.

In September, all sides will meet for a final discussion before the National Council for Minimum Wage in October decides how much garment and footwear workers should receive in 2020.

Currently, the minimum wage for garment and footwear factory workers is set at $182. In 2018, the minimum wage for workers was $170.

Labour Minister Ith Samheng said all parties should consider seven social and economic criteria, such as inflation and competitiveness, before proposing a figure in September.

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, yesterday said the prospect of the European Union suspending the Everything-but-arms trade scheme has created uncertainty among employers.

“The situation this year has not been as smooth as last year’s because of the EBA issue,” Mr Saly said. “Employers are not happy about increasing wages.”

The EBA, which has helped the Kingdom’s garment and footwear industry gain a foothold in the European market, is under threat of being suspended by the European Union.

It is currently being reviewed by the European Commission due to perceived democratic setbacks in the Kingdom.

Mr Saly said it will be hard to have the minimum wage increased next year, but noted that unionists will continue to push for higher wages.

“I think only the government can solve the problem,” he said, adding that he is aiming to propose an $18 increase.

Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance Trade Union, yesterday said she still expects an increase next year.

“For me, I think the negotiations on the minimum wage will be smooth like last year because the current political situation is good,” Ms Sophorn said. “The negotiation process will yield good results for our workers.”

Heng Sour, spokesman for the Labour Ministry, yesterday said all sides should reveal their proposed amounts in September.

“This won’t be the first time they express concerns or demand a wage increase,” Mr Sour said.

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