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Further wage increases eyed

Garment workers may see their salaries increase as the government forms a committee to explore raising the minimum wage
Garment workers may see their salaries increase as the government forms a committee to explore raising the minimum wage. Pha Lina

Further wage increases eyed

As the opposition continues to contest election results, the government has issued its second post-election announcement on salaries, saying yesterday that it has formed a committee aimed at boosting minimum wages for garment and footwear workers next year.

Following the government announcing a pay increase for civil servants days after last month’s ballot, Vong Sovann, secretary-general of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ strikes and demonstrations settlement committee, said the committee would raise wages after examining living costs for workers.

“We can’t tell you how much the workers will receive until after we’ve done the research, but there will be an increase,” he said.

The committee, he added, will involve the government, unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia. “It might take three or four months to complete it, because we’re aiming at increasing wages in 2014,” he said.

Som Aun, president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia – considered government-aligned – believed talks could begin next month.

The NACC, he added, will try to secure a minimum wage of up to $200 over the next five years. “I expect the workers will get an increase between $20 and $30 next year,” he said.

But not everyone has been invited to join the new committee. Because the government does not officially recognise Rong Chhun’s Cambodian Confederation of Unions, he will be observing from afar.

“I’m surprised [about this committee] but I congratulate them.… I want them to increase wages to $150 per month as soon as possible,” he said, adding construction workers, beer promoters, domestic servants and hospitality staff should be paid the same.

Kong Athit, vice president of the independent Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said he, too, had not received an invitation and suggested the announcement was aimed at calming down workers tempted to join Cambodia National Rescue Party demonstrations.

The government raised the minimum garment wage from $61 to $75 in March after the opposition vowed to raise pay to $150 per month if it won the election.

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