The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, and employer and union representatives will meet next month to discuss the 2020 minimum wage for workers in the garment and footwear sectors, where unions expect an increase of between $20 and $25 a month.
The government has increased the minimum wage for garment workers every year since 2014. The 2019 minimum wage was set at $182 a month.
On Wednesday, the ministry issued a letter calling for relevant parties to conduct internal discussions before the tripartite meeting, which will be held next month.
“The national council meeting will be held in October 2019 to determine the 2020 minimum wage for workers in the garment and footwear sector. The new minimum wage will be effective on January 1, 2020,” read the letter, signed by Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng.
The ministry urged relevant parties to use social factors – such as family conditions, inflation and current living expenses, and economic factors such as productivity, national competitiveness, the current labour market situation and profitability in the sector as well as the poverty line as the basis for its judgement.
“All involved parties must study data and scientific research which focuses on seven factors, as stated in Article 5 of the Law on Minimum Wage as the basis for their internal discussions and overall position,” the letter read.
Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn told The Post on Thursday that according to his research, the minimum wage for the sector will increase between $20 and $25. He said he will cite his research during his discussion with union leaders to reach an acceptable figure.
“We say it’ll be an increase between $20 and $25 from the base salary because we met with factory garment workers. Most of them want the increase to be that amount. There are other reasons."
“If we demand too much during the discussion, they will reject our demand because, in recent years, the increase has only been between $10 and $15 per year. Most workers said if we can achieve that figure, their livelihoods would be improved significantly,” said Thorn.
He argued that the minimum wage should be around $300 to respond to the Kingdom’s current socio-economic situation, noting that inflation had been between three and four per cent each year.
Cambodian Labour Union Federation president Som Aun told The Post that he cannot release details of his research.
However, he said he will offer insight during discussions to provide maximum benefits for the workers, which will be acceptable for all parties,including employers.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo told The Post on Thursday that after the ministry’s announcement, employers will start their internal discussions to determine their ability to raise the minimum wage.
“We’ve only started internal discussions … We cannot reveal ahead of time the figure that we will present to the tripartite meeting,” said Loo.
Ministry of Labour spokesperson Heng Sour told The Post that the date for the Labour Advisory Council meeting to officially set the minimum wage for 2020 has not been confirmed as yet.