Starting in January next year, the new salaries will be paid to almost one million workers in about 1,000 factories across Cambodia who produce garments, textiles and footwear, which are the kingdom’s biggest exports.
Workers in these industries have current net salaries of $153 per month, but also receive other bonuses such as overtime, food and transportation allowances, as well as free medical check-ups.
Yesterday’s decision confirmed that contracted employees will receive $165, and when they change to being fulltime staff, they will receive the full $170, excluding other benefits.
The minimum wage for the textile and footwear industries in Cambodia will be higher than in some countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar, which also have similar industries.
The minimum wage for garment workers will rise to $170 from January next year after the government’s Labour Advisory Committee came to a unanimous agreement on the issue.
The rise represents an 11 percent increase on the current monthly wage of $153.
A working group of unions, employers and civil servants voted to propose a figure of $165 to the government.
Prime Minister Hun Sen then added an extra $5 to bring the total to $170.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng thanked the working group for coming to a unanimous decision and said the deal was good news for garment workers and their families.
“All representatives from all parties agreed,” he said. “This is the first time everyone has agreed on a number together.”
“If we include other benefits, our workers will get about $200 per month,” he added.
Ath Thorn, president of Cambodian Labour Confederation, said he was happy because the figure of $170 was the final amount proposed to the Labour Advisory Committee by unions.
“We did not want to waste time on dragging out the discussion so we decided to unanimously agree to $165,” he said, adding it was rare to see such a high increase.
“This is an historical moment. I think $170 is an appropriate figure for our workers, but I am not sure the employers are happy with it.”
Mr Thorn said unions will continue to demand more wages for workers in coming years.
He predicted negotiations for the minimum wage in 2019 will be more difficult.
Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, said he was not expecting such a big increase for workers.
“I would like to thank the Labour Advisory Committee and Prime Minister Hun Sen for increasing the minimum wage to $170 per month in 2018 in line with requests from 16 union leaders. This is unprecedented in the history of labour unions and the government,” he said.
Kaing Monika, the deputy secretary general of GMAC, said yesterday the new minimum wage of $170 is of course quite high and goes beyond the affordability of some of our members and the competitive level of the country.
“So government assistance is needed, especially in response to our GMAC counter-proposals put forward yesterday. In this case, we are highly appreciated of Samdech’s kind approval on further suspension of 1 percentAPT for another five years and the complete elimination of Export Management Fees,” he said.
Mr Kaing added that the elimination of Export Management Fees (EMF) not only cuts costs for the factory, but also helps reduce the hassle in term of paperwork and he hoped the government would also consider reducing the Com-control inspection fee at the same level of customs.