Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday renewed his call to landlords not to raise rent for workers, leading to unions asking the government to issue a directive rather than just a suggestion.
Speaking during a graduation ceremony at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen said that garment and footwear workers’ salaries are slated to be increased from $182 to $190 next month.
“Again, I want to continue to appeal to all landlords not to raise your rents beyond what workers receive. Workers’ minimum wages have increased by only $8, but some rental rooms increase by $10,” Mr Hun Sen said. “So, local authorities have to work out this issue with the landlords to ensure that the workers receive real benefits from an increase of the minimum wage.”
Pav Sina, Collective Union of Movement of Workers president, yesterday hailed Mr Hun Sen’s call, but noted the premier should issue a directive instructing all landlords not to increase rent.
“I think it has become less effective because it’s not a directive. He has just made an appeal,” Mr Sina said. “Therefore, if possible, he should order commune or district officials to inspect the targeted areas where rental rooms or houses are increased. Then, they can collect all information.”
Mr Sina noted that if local authorities ignore the issue, room rentals will be raised every year.
Mr Sina said that his union is now gathering information and evidence related to the rent increase and will submit findings to the government.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday said ministry officials are cooperating with local authorities to address garment workers’ concerns regarding rent increases.
“I would like to ask all garment workers to report to local authorities if such a problem happens,” Mr Sour said. “If any landlords are not satisfied with this, we will solve the problem according to the law.”
Srey Touch, a garment worker from Phnom Penh’s Chom Chao commune, yesterday said that her landlord has informed her and other workers that she will increase rent by $5 in January.
“Currently, I rent a room for $20 per month, but from January next year I was asked to pay $25 per month. I agreed to pay her because I have no other choice,” Ms Touch said. “If I do not accept it, I have to move out.”