ALETTER from the head of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia to Chea Mony, a union leader who last week threatened to organise a strike over demands for a 40 percent minimum wage hike, states that recent price increases have affected factory owners more than workers.
But Ken Loo declined to say Tuesday whether the letter, dated June 16, offered any insight into GMAC’s position on the proposed minimum wage increase, which he has not yet disclosed.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, distributed the letter on Tuesday during a protest involving more than 2,000 workers from the Ocean Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. The workers are demanding the reinstatement of seven union leaders who were suspended on June 12 after objecting to the introduction of overtime hours.
Chea Mony last week sent his own letter to the Interior Ministry announcing that he planned to organise a three-day sit-down strike beginning July 13 to press his demand that the monthly minimum wage be raised from US$50 to $70.
GMAC’s letter, according to an unofficial translation, acknowledges that the minimum wage is an important issue for “garment workers throughout Cambodia”, and that the “increase of daily living expenses has put pressure on the workers”, but goes on to say that these pressures are even greater for factory owners.
“The increase of expenses is making the GMAC members also face a lot of difficulties – more difficulties than the workers. All the expenses are increasing due to inflation and the increasing prices of goods and services,” the letter states.
Ken Loo said Tuesday that rising overhead costs for materials, electricity and the transportation of goods have hit factory owners hard in recent months.
“The price of cotton has gone up 30 percent in the last three or four months,” he said. “If inflation affects the individual, imagine how it affects the company – it is compounded many times over.”
Chea Mony said Tuesday that he was pleased the letter from Ken Loo had reiterated GMAC’s willingness to discuss the proposed wage increase.