The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said in a statement this week that under the new minimum wage workers can actually earn up to $250 per month, though others were quick to label the figure exaggerated.
The Ministry of Labour last week approved the new wage in Cambodia’s garment sector, which comes on top of legally required benefits such as transportation, accommodation and meal allowances. The new wage of $128 – up from $100 – will go into effect January 1.
“In reality, wage has many components,” the statement, posted to GMAC’s Facebook page on Wednesday, says. It concludes that “starting from January 2015, the total monthly take-home wage a worker will be able to earn is between US$225 and US$250”.
GMAC’s analysis includes legally mandated bonuses, such as $10 for attendance and $7 for travel and accommodation, as well as overtime, seniority and other factors.
While agreeing that workers will take home at least $135 each month next year, Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center, Welsh described GMAC’s $225 to $250 conclusion as “a huge embellishment”.
“By and large, workers will be making nowhere near that,” Welsh said yesterday. “If a worker chose not to sleep and factories ran 24 hours a day,” workers may be able to earn that much, Welsh said.
Che Chakrya, a 31-year-old garment worker at a factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, also took issue with GMAC’s assessment yesterday. Working several overtime shifts a month, Chakrya earns about $160, which will presumably go up to $188 after the wage hike.
No garment workers Chakrya knows earns in the $200 range, she said.
“I don’t think workers can work enough hours every day to receive the amount GMAC calculated,” Chakrya said.
GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo could not be reached.
In a meeting yesterday between the International Labour Organization (ILO) deputy director-general for policy Sandra Polaski, Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, Polaski praised the government for the new wage, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.
“[Polaski said] she understands that the will of the government is to always help workers and improve their living standards,” Kuong said.
ILO country director Tun Sophorn could not be reached yesterday to confirm Kuong’s statement about Polaski.
Welsh compared GMAC’s statement with their advertisement campaign this year insisting that the labour law does not include a right to strike; which was quickly proved incorrect.