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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Semi-skilled builders see wages drop, report says

Semi-skilled builders see wages drop, report says

Real wages for Cambodia's semi-skilled construction workers fell during the past five years, according to a recent report from market research firm BDLINK Cambodia.

Unskilled workers, however, were better off last year then they were in 2007.

A 36 per cent increase in the Kingdom’s consumer price index during the period put semi-skilled workers’ real wages last year 11 per cent below the 2007 rate, the report showed.

Unskilled workers made 42 per cent more in 2011 than they did five years earlier.

“This result – that unskilled workers are better off while semi-skilled workers are worse off – is somewhat surprising and requires further consideration and research,” the report stated.

Nominal wage increases, which do not factor in inflation, were 78 per cent and 25 per cent for unskilled and semi-skilled construction workers respectively.

The trend may demonstrate a gap between actual wage increase and expectations.

Cultural characteristics and the close relationships between subcontractors and their workers may have factored into the unexpected wage movement, the report said.

Subcontractors might have negotiated lower wages with semi-skilled workers with the hopes of holding on to more workers during the global financial crisis.

The report was based on workers’ recollections of their wages during the past five years, leaving room for errors, as well as exaggerations and underestimates, the report noted.

Semi-skilled labourers were defined as those who could do some independent work and use some machinery.

Unskilled workers completed tasks such as carrying bricks under supervision, the report said.

About 50 per cent of workers surveyed by BDLINK had a primary education.

The report said nine per cent had no education and 35 per cent had been to lower secondary school.

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at



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