Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Group may slow wage talks

Group may slow wage talks

Garment workers protest for a higher minimum wage in Phnom Penh last month
Garment workers protest for a higher minimum wage in Phnom Penh last month. Hong Menea

Group may slow wage talks

The new working group announced by Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng this week will likely retain a strong influence over the body that determines the minimum wage in Cambodia’s garment industry. It is unlikely, however, that the working group will prioritise a speedy resolution to negotiations.

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday that the 27-member group, made up of nine representatives of union, industry and government officials, will negotiate a palatable floor salary for next year without the strain of a tight deadline.

“The working group will keep negotiating, and if they are not approaching the particular number that will likely [be the] figure, they will keep on negotiating until they come up with a very rational number,” Sour said.

Unlike the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC), which ultimately decides the garment sector’s minimum wage, Sour said the working group will only consist of unions, employers and government officials who are directly involved with the garment industry. While the temporary working group will not directly decide 2015’s wage, their figure “might be the likely number” LAC members use as a template, Sour said.

LAC members were originally scheduled to reach a decision by October 10, but Sam Heng last week delayed this until an unspecified date next month

Forming the panel was probably the result of overwhelming unity among unions across the political spectrum in demanding a drastic hike in the monthly wage, which now sits at $100, said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center.

“The pressure at this point is on the government and industry to move upwards,” he said.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has said that they can only afford to pay $110, plus a $10 attendance bonus and $7 for transportation and housing, making their total possible base salary offer $127. Prominent unions are asking for no less than $150.

GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo yesterday said they haven’t selected which members will sit on the working group.

Chuon Mom Thol, president of typically government-leaning Cambodian Union Federation, sits on both the working group and LAC. Since Ministry of Planning data calculated by the International Labour Organization shows Cambodia’s poverty line to be $120 per month, he said he believes neither union nor government officials on either body will accept a number below this figure.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • 8 provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four