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Independent, pro-government unions debate wage law

Participants at a union meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday discussed the draft law to expand Cambodia’s minimum wage. Photo supplied
Participants at a union meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday discussed the draft law to expand Cambodia’s minimum wage. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Independent, pro-government unions debate wage law

Trade unionists met yesterday to discuss the draft universal minimum wage law, with representatives saying they would ask the Labour Ministry later this week to change articles that would restrict criticism of the wage determination process and allow for the prospect of regional wages.

The draft law is expected to broaden the current minimum wage for garment and footwear workers to other sectors, but has been criticised by unionists and labour advocates alike for restricting workers’ rights to assembly and expression. Far Sally, president of the National Trade Union Coalition, said pro-government and independent unions raised concerns over multiple articles of the draft legislation, but were only able to reach an agreement on two – articles 9 and 26 – which both groups said were unacceptable.

Article 9 stipulates the minimum wage could vary depending on the region and economic conditions, and article 26 imposes a stiff 10 million riel (about $2,500) fine for “inciting and provoking any activity” once the wage was determined.

“The limiting of the minimum according to region, we cannot accept it at all,” he said. “We must do it as a national [wage].”

Chhuon Momthol, head of the pro-government Cambodia Worker Labour Federation Union, said they would now discuss potential changes with the ministry on Friday and would ensure that the law only benefitted workers.

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