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World Bank highlights wage gains

The wages and working conditions of garment factory workers in Cambodia are at or above the national average, a report from the World Bank has found.

The report, released last Monday, examines gender and equality issues in developing countries and found that in an increasingly integrated global economy, the movement of production to poorer countries could have a positive impact on wages, citing Cambodia as an example.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, said it was “probably true” that wages were at or above the national average in the Kingdom.

“But the report seems to ignore other legal violations such as the proliferation of short term and fixed duration contracts,” he said. “These contracts do not give workers any job security. The government knows this and the factories know this.”

Ken Loo, Secretary General of Garment Manufactures in Cambodia, called the report’s findings on wages in Cambodia a “forgone conclusion”.

“Look at the GDP of Cambodia, the average person earns US$600 per year – then look at garment factory workers getting $95 a month. You do the maths.”

The minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia rose to US$61 for regular workers in June 2010 and in March 2011 a wage supplement went into effect that provided seniority bonuses, attendance bonuses and overtime meal allowances.

Mouen Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said the report’s findings had to be evaluated in light of a spate of mass fainting episodes that had occurred in the past year and had been found to be caused by negligence within factories.

More than 300,000 workers are employed in Cambodian garment factories that export, a 2011 International Labour Organisation data sheet on the industry found. Some 90 percent of those employees are estimated to women.

The World Bank was not available for comment.

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