The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) is asking the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to delay 2021 minimum wage negotiations.
The association is arguing that the 2020 minimum wage should remain in effect because the sector is vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
GMAC said in a statement on Tuesday that the textile, garment and footwear sectors are fragile and a return to normal operations will take a long time.
Its statement said moreover, many factories have suspended operations and some are closing, so support is necessary to help stabilise the sector.
“GMAC is of the view that the new minimum wage negotiations for 2021 should be postponed. The 2020 minimum wage should remain in effect until the sector returns to normal,” it said.
The GMAC said it strongly hopes that the new minimum wage negotiations for 2021 will be temporarily suspended until the situation in the sector is restored.
“Delaying the minimum wage negotiations will be a mechanism to support the sector to stay alive as well as maintain employment for workers,” it said.
The labour ministry issued a notification on June 10 on the schedule of minimum wage negotiations in the textile, garment and footwear sector for 2021, which are planned to take place from July to September.
Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour told The Post on Tuesday that all individuals and organisations have the right to express their opinion, but everyone has to follow the mechanism as stipulated in the law.
“The new minimum wage negotiations for a new year will continue according to the law without any delay.
“The law requires a gathering, so we have to gather. The law doesn’t say that the wage has to be raised every year – it could be raised, stay the same or be reduced based on changes in seven criteria of the set minimum wage,” he said.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina told The Post on Tuesday that at this stage, the new minimum wage negotiations for 2021 will be tenser than ever.
But he said GMAC should return to the negotiating table because all parties have been affected by the pandemic.
“No matter how difficult it is, all parties have to be sincere and examine the possibility of negotiating even though we all suffer from the effects of Covid-19.
“So, [all parties] should return to the negotiating table to see what we can do and what we can’t do. We can talk to each other honestly,” he said.
Sina said he is worried that in future, workers will suffer even more if the new year minimum wage is not raised and other benefits are also reduced.
He requested that the ministry consider offering other benefits as before to workers for them to avoid financial difficulties and debt.
Since 2014, the government has had a policy to raise the minimum wage in the textile, garment and footwear sectors annually. This year, the minimum wage was raised to $190 a month.