Talks settle on wages figures

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Each side of the three-party working group agreed to compromise on their original negotiating positions. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Employers, unions and government officials have settled on three figures to propose as the new minimum wage for garment, textile and footwear workers in a final day of negotiations on the issue.

The figures will be sent to Labour Minister Ith Samheng for a final decision tomorrow.

Each member of the Labour Advisory Committee’s tripartite working group agreed to compromise on their initial requests, with the government side increasing its proposal from $162.67 to $165 per month, employers shifting from $161.50 to $162, and unions decreasing their figure from $175 to $170.

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, said Mr Samheng, who is president of the Labour Advisory Committee, would make the final decision on the figure.

“I was so happy to see the government side change its figure from $162.67 to $165 per month,” he said.

He added that this year’s negotiations were historic in that all unions were able to agree on the single figure of $170.

Mr Saly said he expected Prime Minister Hun Sen to consider the figure seriously and agree with the unions’ proposal.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said yesterday proposals for the minimum wage were likely to rise beyond what its members could afford.

GMAC said unions argued for the figure of $170 on the basis that last year’s nine percent growth in productivity had to be factored in.

“GMAC had expected unions would follow the agreed principle of using the average of figures from the last 10 years rather than the single figure for the last year,” GMAC said.

“This is to avoid shock in any particular year where growth fluctuates dramatically. Productivity growth should also be divided by two because it is considered a result of efforts put in by both parties, for example the employer may have invested in updated machines and new systems.

“If the unions had adhered to those principles, all three figures would be much closer together. There could even have been a consensus on the single figure $163, without the need to go to a secret vote.”

GMAC went on to say that it expected the Prime Minister would increase the figure put forward by government officials, since he always attempted to take care of workers.

“But to the employer, this is another burden to be considered,” it said, calling on the government to reduce tax, exports and customs fees to mitigate the impact of the wage rise on firms.

“It’s worth noting that from January 2018, employers will also be required to pay 100 percent of workers’ health care costs, while pension fund payments are also in the pipeline.

“Being just a production base, any increase in the labour cost could potentially erode the country’s competitiveness, if it is not properly offset by improvement in other areas.”

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