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GMAC meets over garment wage increase

GMAC meets over garment wage increase

THE Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia held a meeting on Thursday to discuss a proposed 40 percent increase in the minimum wage for garment workers, two days after a trade union representing more than 80,000 workers announced plans to hold a three-day strike next month.

Ken Loo, the secretary general of GMAC, said it was too early to comment on how the body views the proposed increase.

“We have a position on minimum wage, but we are not ready to disclose it to the media,” he said.

In a letter sent to the Interior Ministry Tuesday, Chea Mony, head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTU), said 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. The announcement came less than two weeks after the Labour Ministry urged unionists to hold off on strikes so that negotiations could go forward.

Under a 2006 agreement, the minimum wage is set to be discussed at some point this year, but Chea Mony has in recent weeks demanded
immediate action.

Alonzo Suson, country programme director at the Trade Union Support Organisation, an NGO, said Thursday that he believed the strike threat had “totally undermined the whole process of the minimum wage negotiations”, and added that he did not believe a general strike would be carried out.

“FTU has never had a general strike,” he said. “There may be some sit-down strikes in some factories.”

Loo said Thursday’s GMAC meeting had also addressed the government’s first Law on Trade Unions, a draft of which was sent out for consultations earlier this month. He also declined to provide details of that discussion beyond saying that GMAC would seek clarification on some points from the government.

“We identified some areas of difference between it and the existing Labour Law, and there are some articles we are concerned about,” he said.

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