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Garment wage raised to $75

Garment wage raised to $75

Workers at a garment factory in Kandal province in March. Vireak Mai

GARMENT and footwear workers across the country will be paid a minimum wage of $75 per month – an increase of $14 – beginning in May, according to a document released by the Ministry of Social Affairs this morning.

“The minimum wage will be changed on May 1 and the workers will receive it at the end of May or early in June,” the statement, signed by Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng, says.

The documents add that the government had been willing to approve an increase to $73, but Prime Minister Hun Sen had intervened and said the figure should instead be $75 plus a $5 health allowance that workers are already paid.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the employers add $2 for this wage to bring it up to $80,” the statement says. “The Labour Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on March 29 in order to complete this process in accordance with the Labour Law.”

Vong Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ strike resolution committee, also said Hun Sen had insisted on the additional $2.

“The decision is final and relevant parties will have a meeting next Friday with the Labour Advisory Committee,” he said.

The announcement follows a series of talks in recent weeks between the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and unions, some of which stood firm on $100 per month in the face of GMAC’s $70 offer.

In the latest such meeting this week, six unions considered pro-government agreed to go as low as $73, but GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said agreement could only be reached if all 10 union groups in the meeting were unified.

Loo said today that he had only just heard the announcement and was not in a position to comment until he was given more details.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, one of the unions that stood firm on its $100 demand, said he could not accept the $75 figure and would organise a massive strike in response.

“I’ve received information about this already, but I do not welcome this decision at all, because it is a very little amount for workers,” he said

The Kingdom’s billion-dollar industry employs more than 400,000 workers in hundreds of factories and sells most of its exports to the US and Europe.