Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Civil servants to see raise

Civil servants to see raise

Military police kneel at a deployment ceremony in April.
Military police kneel at a deployment ceremony in April. Pha Lina

Civil servants to see raise

As the nation continues to wait for official results from last month’s national election, the Cambodian People’s Party got on with governing yesterday, announcing that some 90,000 civil servants will receive a 40 per cent wage increase beginning on September 1.

In what some observers called an attempt to shore up support from those who voted in larger-than-expected numbers for the opposition, the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced that low-level civil servants including teachers, soldiers and police officers will be paid a minimum of $80 per month.

“The government has decided to increase the basic monthly salary for civil servants in categories C and D to 320,000 riel [$80],” a statement, which also appeared on the government news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse, says.

“Therefore, the current total minimum monthly salary, including the basic salary and other incentives, of [these] civil servants ... of [$61] will rise to [$86].”

Prime Minister Hun Sen signed the sub-decree on Tuesday after a conversation with villagers in Kandal province last week and a report from the ministry, the statement continues, which adds that more wage hikes will follow.

Before the election, the issue of wages featured in the rhetoric of both the ruling CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Civil servants, many of whom make less than garment workers and are prevented from forming unions due to a law that contradicts the constitution, were particularly in the spotlight.

CNRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said yesterday that he welcomed the wage increase.

“But we would like the government to pay more. It’s not enough for them,” he said. “In our election policies, we wanted to increase it to at least $250 for civil servants.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association – and a vocal supporter of the CNRP – also welcomed the increase, but questioned the timing of the announcement from the Kingdom’s “caretaker” government.

“It’s good to see the raise, but it’s strange to deal with this issue during the transition between government [mandates],” he said.

The timing of the announcement may have been unusual, but it appeared to be within the rules, Cambodian Defenders Project director Sok Sam Oeun said. “I think it’s OK if the government has enough budget approved for this,” he said.

“The government has experience in political deadlocking in the past.... Last time, they kept the status quo. This time, the opposition has claimed they will increase salaries – [now] the ruling party will do the same thing.”

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said the timing of the announcement was no coincidence, coming in the wake of a huge loss of support for the CPP at the polls, and amid threats of mass demonstrations if the CNRP is not awarded victory.

“I believe thousands of [civil] workers – including soldiers – voted for the CNRP,” he said. “The CPP understands that. The CNRP has called for a huge demonstration ... and the government is concerned they will participate.”

Tola added the ruling party’s huge loss of support – 22 seats, according to its own figures – had debunked the belief that everyone in the civil service voted for the CPP, even if they were members of the party.

“People are forced to join. If your boss is CPP, you have to join. If you object, they discriminate against you.”

Before the election, the CNRP promised to increase civil servants’ wages to a minimum of $250 if victorious.

The government announced a 20 per cent annual increase to civil servants last October, in the same month a government news agency claimed salaries in the public sector had increased on average by about 540 per cent since 2001.

According to opposition figures announced last year, civil servants, excluding soldiers, earned an average of $48 a month, along with small supplementary allowances and possible overtime.

One government official the Post spoke to yesterday said, on condition of anonymity, that the wage hike was “a positive move” by the government after a strong challenge from the CNRP.

“I hope there will be more,” he said.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all