Garment and footwear industry workers were promised a range of services from Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday, including free bus rides, a minimum wage hike and health insurance.
Meeting with 4,270 garment workers, team leaders and administrative officials from 93 different factories at the Koh Pich exhibition centre, Mr Hun Sen promised workers free public bus rides for the next two years.
The minimum wage would rise to $168 per month in 2018 and in January health insurance would become the responsibility of factory employers, saving workers between $2 and $3 per month.
“In order to help make the living standards of garment workers better, I have asked City Hall to provide free public bus services for workers,” Mr Hun Sen said. “You just show your labour cards when you ride the bus, and you will ride free of charge.”
The Prime Minister also promised to meet with garment workers regularly to hear their concerns.
“Today, the Cambodian government pays attention to the situation of workers and their living standards, including increasing the minimum wage continuously,” he said, adding that the move to increase the minimum wage was not because of demands made by the opposition party, but due to an increase in foreign investment.
The Prime Minister added that he has ordered the Health Ministry to set up health centres, with ambulances, nearby factories for check-ups and in case of accidents.
He also said that from 2019 onwards, all workers will receive pensions.
President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers Pav Sina celebrated with workers over the news that employers would have to pay for their workers health insurance.
“More than that, the garment workers can ride the buses without paying for two years. We thank the Prime Minister for thinking about the difficulties of workers,” he said.
But Mr Sina added that the minimum wage increase was lower than their demands.
“Last year, we demanded $171 per month, so there is still a bit of a difference between our figure and the one the government has granted,” Mr Sina said.
President of the Cambodian Alliance Trade Union Yang Sophorn said last week on a local radio programme that she supported the government visiting face-to-face with garment workers, but the meetings should not only occur during election periods.
“I do not want him to just meet with the workers or citizens during the election year, but he should meet them often, in order to know about their situation, both before and after the election,” she said.
The national election is scheduled for July 2018.