Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t letter to brands ‘lacking in substance’

Gov’t letter to brands ‘lacking in substance’

Gov’t letter to brands ‘lacking in substance’

A government letter that responded lukewarmly to an offer last month from eight global brands to pay more for clothes so that garment workers can earn higher wages has been met with a shrug by some worker advocates.

Dated September 26, the letter from Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng is addressed to “Representatives of Global Brands”.

It thanks them for their offer to increase the price – and volume of orders – for garments purchased from Cambodian factories, then goes on to describe the process of meetings between unions, factories and government officials leading up to the October 10 decision on the sector’s minimum wage, which will be implemented on January 1.

“We are very pleased to hear that you wish to increase your purchasing volumes and prices for our products,” Sam Heng’s letter reads. “Indeed. [sic] this is really a positive signal for Employers to consider the possibilities of increasing minimum wage.”

Advocates for higher salaries were not impressed with the vague tone of the letter.

“There’s no mention of a fair wage or living wage. It’s getting pretty ridiculous,” said Joel Preston, a consultant for the Community Legal Education Center.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said the fact that Cambodia responded at all was a positive sign, but expressed disappointment at the letter’s lack of substance.

“They’re not really being very clear on the [wage-setting] mechanism that everyone would agree on,” Athit said.

C.CAWDU is one of seven unions in the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee, which mandates the minimum wage.

As tension mounted ahead of the minimum wage talks, two other union activists yesterday were summonsed to Svay Rieng Provincial Court for questioning regarding their involvement in a road-blocking protest on August 13.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers staffers Cham Samnang, 28, and Chea Uddom, 23, are due in court on Tuesday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

    Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial

  • UAE prince seeks to invest in Cambodia

    The UAE has expressed interest in Cambodian oil and gas exploration. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said this was the result of his discussions with Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, a member of the royal family who visited him on Wednesday.

  • Smith calls for ‘release’ of Sokha as visit ends

    At a press conference to conclude her 11-day visit to Cambodia, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday called for treason charges against former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped and for him to be released from “restricted detention”.

  • PM denies ‘nepotism’ claims

    Prime minister Hun Sen denied on Thursday that nepotism was involved in the recent promotions of the children of senior government officials. He said they had been “trained” and were entirely capable of carrying out their duties while being open to “punishment” like anyone else.