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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GMAC makes push for $130

Garment factory workers sit at work stations and sew clothing for export at a factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district
Garment factory workers sit at work stations and sew clothing for export at a factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district in September. Pha Lina

GMAC makes push for $130

Given three options for schemes to double Cambodia’s minimum apparel wage to $160 by 2018, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has instead proposed a fourth: raise salaries to only $130.

In a letter GMAC sent to Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng, obtained by the Post yesterday, the factories association says it would agree to raise the monthly minimum wage – which now stands at $80 – by $10 annually over the next five years.

The letter was sent on Tuesday, a day after a Ministry of Labour working group comprising officials, labour union representatives and GMAC outlined three different plans to raise wages to $160 by 2018. The group that day suggested the government raise pay in a five-year timeframe by adding $16 annually until 2018, raising wages annually based on factors such as the economy and inflation or upping the minimum to $160 next year.

While GMAC’s final figure diverges from the working group’s, it is not a departure from their stance on the issue, GMAC secretary general Ken Loo said last night when asked about the letter.

“That was the original official position,” Loo said. “But we’ve since had more meetings with the government and seemed to have reached some kind of understanding.”

The letter also insistently requests that the government strictly enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward “illegal” strikes and to discuss and review the draft Law on Trade Unions for submission as soon as possible.
A separate GMAC statement the Post obtained yesterday alleges that two employees at the capital’s Apple Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd, who did not join a strike there, were tied up and severely beaten on Monday.

The statement supports the government’s “stringent enforcement of the law”.

GMAC also signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with government officials and the International Labour Organization (ILO), which will allow ILO program Better Factories Cambodia to continue operating in the Kingdom for another three years.

“It’s a good sign [of] national engagement, national commitment,” said Maurizio Bussi, the ILO’s East, Southeast Asia and Pacific director.

BFC announced in October its plan to begin publicly disclosing parts of their reports from factory inspections.

Bussi yesterday said that, so far, the program has established that it will publically disclose violations to international labour standards and critical health, safety and salary measures.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL

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