Prime Minister Hun Sen has told garment workers not to demand an excessive increase in the minimum wage, otherwise factories could move to more affordable countries.
Speaking to more than 10,000 garment workers in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district yesterday, he said many employees in Asia get paid less than them, citing the fact staff in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka get $67 a month, while workers in Myanmar are paid $79 and those in Laos get $110.
Talks on the new minimum wage for garment workers began earlier this week, with the government suggesting an increase to $162.67 for next year, employers proposing $161 and unions requesting $176.25.
“I appeal to all workers to think about the long term. Do not kill the chicken so you can have one delicious meal. Instead, feed the chicken so it can lay eggs or produce chicks for the future,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“If we demand more than employers can afford, they will move their factories to Myanmar, Laos, Bangladesh or another country. So who will be affected then?”
He warned workers could lose their jobs and livelihoods if firms decided to relocate.
“The parties that are negotiating the minimum wage must do so responsibility,” he added.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the working group to discuss the minimum wage will meet again tomorrow. If they cannot agree on one figure, they will hold another meeting early next month.
Mr Hun Sen meanwhile vowed to continue visiting factories across the country for the rest of his tenure as prime minister.