Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GMAC targets 3 per cent bump for garment force



GMAC targets 3 per cent bump for garment force

A garment worker performs final quality checks at a Phnom Penh factory in 2014.
A garment worker performs final quality checks at a Phnom Penh factory in 2014. Vireak Mai

GMAC targets 3 per cent bump for garment force

Less than a week after unions unveiled their minimum wage goal for the coming year, the Kingdom’s factory owners have staked out their own – considerably lower – dollar figure for the coming negotiations.

The Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia (GMAC) yesterday submitted a letter to Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng stating that workers in the garment and footwear industry should receive a minimum wage of $144.20 a month.

While the unions pointed to cost of living studies they said relied on government data in making their demand for $179.60, GMAC has pegged its proposal solely to the rate of inflation, which would not allow for an increase in real wages.

“We have only used the rate of inflation to calculate this number,” confirmed GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo, something he said reflected the struggling state of the sector.

The two proposals will serve as the jumping off point for tripartite negotiations between the government, labour unions and employer representatives that will determine the wage for 2017. Those meetings will begin over the weekend and last until January.

The $144.20 GMAC is proposing represents a 3 per cent increase from the current minimum wage of $140, in line with the inflation rate estimated by both the unions and GMAC.

“These days our garment sector is in a bad situation,” Loo wrote in the letter. “We worry about the decline in orders from buyers, in labour productivity, and in the export rates.”

Last month, GMAC’s operations manager Ly Tek Heng claimed rising wages had seen 70 factories shut down in Cambodia to that point in the year, a figure that was questioned by government figures and union leaders.

But labour experts say it’s problematic to factor in only inflation when wages are already low and many families rely on the minimum wage to survive.

“If the minimum wage were high enough, then it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s not high enough", said William Conklin, country director at the labour advocacy NGO Solidarity Centre. “This is supposed to cover more than one person; it’s supposed to support families.”

Labour unions, meanwhile, appeared unconcerned with the number, which they say is just a starting point for negotiations.

“Every year, GMAC offers a low figure and claims that the situation is getting worse,” said Yang Sophorn, a representative of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU). “But even if the factory closes, they always re-open it, and the minimum wage increases every year to ensure that workers can live.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there