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Minimum wage process launched

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The process of setting next year’s minumum wage started yesterday with the publication of the schedule of talks involving the government, unions and employers. But with national elections looming next year there were warnings that the issue should not become a political football.

The training of representatives set to take part in minimum wage talks will start next month, with Labour Minister Ith Samheng warning participants against using the talks for their own political ends.
He said the adoption of the minimum wage in 2018 would coincide with the run-up to the national elections.
“Don’t use the minimum wage discussions for political benefit,” he said yesterday. 
“Don’t create that kind of problem. Don’t do what happened in late 2013 and protest. That would be outdated. If someone creates this problem, they will have to take responsibility for it themselves.”
Also yesterday, the Labour Ministry released the schedule for the discussions. Representatives of three sides will take part, on behalf of the government, unions and employers.
Starting next month, the International Labour Organisation will provide training for the three groups.
In August the government will hold separate talks with employers and unions.
And in September all three sides will hold talks with formal negotiations to begin in October.
A wage determination is to be made by January 1.
Tun Sophorn, national coordinator for the ILO, said it was nearly time for the minimum wage discussions, which was why his office had set up the two-day training sessions.
“The training will educate all sides ahead of the discussions in July,” he said. 
“The trainer knows about minimum wages in other countries. We will use models from other countries for the training sessions.”  
Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said he thought the wage rise this year would be more than last year.
“It is nearly time for the national election,” he said.
“I think all parties will take up the issue of encouraging workers for their own political benefit.” 
Choun Momthol, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions, said he hoped the discussions would be a smooth process and no side would use it as an excuse to protest. 
“We can’t say how much of an increase there will be this year,” he said. 
“We think it will probably be ten percent. 
“We hope the Prime Minister will make it more because he always encourages extra for the workers.” 
He added that this year’s minimum wage was $153 a month. Workers could get more from bonuses and make $170 to $180 per month.
Separately, Rick Helfenbein, president of the American Apparel Footwear Association, has written to Mr Hun Sen about the draft minimum wage law.
Mr Helfenbein said the association had concerns about two pieces of pending legislation that it believed could harm the garment, footwear and travel goods sectors.
It said the draft law sought to limit research and discussion surrounding the minimum wage to just the working of the Labour Advisory Council. 
By preventing the ability of stakeholders to research and hold discussions with their own constituencies and with each other on the minimum wage outside the purview of the Labour Advisory Council, the law could add significant challenges to an already difficult discussion and limit the information used in this important decision. 
The association hoped the government would allow all stakeholders to conduct research and share their views, regardless of whether it was done in the context of the Labour Advisory Council, he said.

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