Following the recent agreement to increase the minimum wage in the garment sector, a productivity fair is due to start on Friday in Phnom Penh, organised by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
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Taking place alongside another expo, the National Career Fair, the Productivity Fair will be held from October 27-28 on Koch Pich and will bring experts in the garment and footwear sectors from Japan, Korea, India and Malaysia to share their expertise with local industry players.
According to a statement by GMAC released this week, experts will also be sharing experiences in specific lean techniques such as line balancing, value stream mapping and quick changeover.
A number of productivity-related competitions have also been organised for GMAC members.
“The forum aims at increasing awareness on the subject of productivity within the industry and the public at large. Wages will increase over the years, and so should productivity levels in order to ensure the survival of enterprises as we move towards achieving higher value added,” said John Cha, head of the event’s organising committee.
In an opinion piece published on Monday in Khmer Times, Jarkko Turunen and Yong Sarah Zhou of the International Monetary Fund recognised that large increases in the minimum wage could further erode competitiveness, especially in the garment sector, which is already experiencing fierce competition from neighbouring countries.
Starting in January 2018, the new minimum wage for the garment industry will be $170, compared with $153 now.
A report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) released in May provides some evidence that the productivity of the sector actually increased in 2016.
“The increased productivity of the sector in 2016 is believed to have contributed to the monetary volumes of the sector’s exports without a corresponding increase in employment and the number of operating factories,” it said.
“The 2016 productivity resurgence, to the extent that it is not just a statistical anomaly, may reflect an increased focus on productivity improvements in the sector.”
Reports by Better Factories Cambodia also suggest factories have been increasingly aware of the need to further boost productivity. In a bid to increase productivity, some factories have reported making investments in capital equipment, undergoing process improvements or setting higher production targets.
Best employee awards will be handed out during the fair over the weekend and workshops on the practice of ‘kaizen’¬ – a Japanese concept that loosely translates to ‘continuous improvement’ – have also been organised.
GMAC now has 512 members in the garment industry and 59 in footwear, amounting for more than 700,000 workers. Last year, Cambodian garment and footwear exports rose by 7.2 percent, reaching $7.3 billion, up from $6.8 billion in 2015, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise.