[A strike] will definitely have a detrimental impact on the industry, and therefore on the economy.
OFFICIALS from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia will meet with union representatives today in an effort to reiterate their position on the Kingdom’s newly established minimum wage and avert a planned strike.
GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said his organisation had called a meeting with Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union and the most vocal of the pro-strike contingent, to clarify the industry’s position on the minimum wage. The Labour Advisory Committee, a body of government officials and industry representatives, authorised a US$5 increase to the monthly minimum wage for garment workers in July, bringing the figure to $61 per month; Ath Thun and others, however, have called for new negotiations and increased wages.
“We called for the meeting [today] to basically inform him again of our position and response with respect to his request,” Loo said. “It’s not a negotiation.”
GMAC has called for all parties concerned to abide by the decision of the Labour Advisory Committee.
Ath Thun said yesterday that he hoped GMAC would help “ease the tension” and reconsider its position on the minimum wage.
“We hope that the meeting will bear fruit,” Ath Thun said.
Ath Thun and other labour leaders claim to have collected roughly 60,000 thumbprints from workers pledging to go on strike starting next Monday in protest against the new minimum wage. The CCAWDU president said yesterday that he expected more than 100,000 workers to join the strike for increased wages.
Loo said the demands were unrealistic, however, and urged workers to reconsider a work stoppage that he said would be extremely disruptive to the industry.
“It will definitely have a detrimental effect on the industry, and therefore on the economy,” Loo said. “The workers should seriously consider if it’s worth it to risk the salary which they are already earning currently ... as opposed to fighting for an impossibility.”
He said he doubted that all 60,000 workers who thumb-printed the petition would actually participate in the planned five-day strike.
In a statement released yesterday, Free Trade Union president Chea Mony urged workers not to participate in the strike and to depend on his union to advocate for increased benefits through a legal framework.
“The FTU reminds and informs all workers that the strenuous efforts of the FTU and the workers in demanding an increased minimum wage recently bore fruit,” the statement read.
Officials from the Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment.