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Unions ready for minimum wage talks

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
A union official speaking at a rally. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Pro-government and independent unions are gearing up for negotiations to introduce a national minimum wage by the end of the year.

A new law on the issue will allow for a monthly minimum wage across all industries.

Several sectors already have a minimum wage, such as the garment and textile industry, which pays staff at least $153 each month.

Unions yesterday joined an International Labour Organisation (ILO) training session to help them prepare ahead of the negotiations.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said independent unions had already carried out research about garment workers’ livelihoods to help inform the negotiations.

“We have had four years to prepare for negotiations about the minimum wage so we all seem to understand the issue well,” he said.

“Our union will probably aim for $200 as a starting point for negotiation.”

Garment workers. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Choun Mom Thol, president of the pro-government Cambodian Union Federation, said he expected that negotiations would add ten percent to the monthly garment worker wage.

“We are all working for the benefit of workers, let’s not make this about our own interests. We hope that all unions will agree and that negotiations proceed well,” he said.

He said negotiations with the government would start from October.

Thea Sophy, an official from ILO, said training was vital before negotiations began.

“Training helps negotiators understand how factors such as inflation, the economy, workers’ family situations and the cost of living affect the minimum wage,” she said.   

In June, Labour Minister Ith Samheng warned participants in minimum wage negotiations against using the talks for their own political ends.

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