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Unions call for minimum wage to be raised by over $11

Huon Dina / Khmer Times Share:
Garment factory workers in Phnom Penh. KT/Siv Channa

Unions are set to demand that workers minimum wage is raised by $11.59 at the National Council on Minimum Wage due to be held at the Ministry of Labour today.

This proposal follows a meeting by union leaders in late August, which was attended by over 20 union representatives, including the Cambodian Labour Confederation and the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

At the meeting, they agreed on the increase which they would propose at the council meeting, which is equal to 6.1 percent of the current minimum wage, currently at $190 per month.

CLC president Ath Thorn said the new wage increase proposal would only cover garment workers, footwear and handbag manufacturers.

“The new raise is based on the seven aspects of the industry that we have agreed on,” he said. “However, we only took three of seven aspects into account, namely inflation, productivity and profitability within the sector,” he said.

“I think the new raise is acceptable as we know there are problems because of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore, we have agreed to put forward this figure for today’s negotiations,” he added.

Last June, the Ministry of Labour confirmed the request of Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia to postpone the annual minimum wage negotiations that should have taken place in July and agreed to move them to September due to COVID-19.

“We need the negotiations,” said Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers. “But due to COVID-19 and the EBA withdrawal, the negotiations have faced challenges.”

Heng Sour, the Labour Ministry’s spokesman, said that members of all three parties have the right to speak and raise issues during today’s meeting and the outcome will be decided by the negotiations. However, he declined further comment, saying that he must wait for the results of the meeting.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika could not be reached for comment.

Last May, the unions, which included the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) and the Cambodian Tourism and Service Worker’s Federation sent a joint letter suggesting the government should ensure that furloughed employees receive 60 percent of their wages during the pandemic.

The letter also suggested the government should increase the minimum wage from $190 to $250 for garment workers and to enforce fixed wages for workers in the construction, tourist and transportation industries as well in the hospitality services.

As of early July about 400 garment, footwear and travel goods factories suspended their operations in Cambodia, leaving over 150,000 workers jobless due to the virus induced pandemic.


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