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Spending study may factor in wage talks

Independent garment-worker unions will consider upping their proposed minimum wage for the sector, after a preliminary report presented yesterday found workers were spending about $207.50 a month on living expenses, according to a union leader.

The figure, included in research by the DC Institute for International Economics, is higher than unions’ current request of $177 and significantly above the current $128 minimum wage.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodia Labour Confederation, said CLC would meet other unions on Wednesday to discuss the study.

Although the report won’t be officially released until next week, about 50 union representatives, labour NGOs and the International Labour Organization were presented with DC’s findings, based on interviews with 745 workers from 60 factories across the country.

The figure of $207.50 was the median monthly expenses of those interviewed, said William Conklin of the labour rights group the Solidarity Centre.

However, Choun Momthol, from the Cambodian Union Federation (CUF), considered pro-government, said he didn’t agree with the findings.

“We wish we could have big salaries to make workers happy,” said Momthol, who is also deputy chairman of the Labour Advisory Committee, which is supervising the current wage discussions. “But [the finding] is higher than our calculation.”

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