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Local wage talks to be model for other countries

Employees work at a garment factory in Yangon late last year. The ILO is considering exporting Cambodia’s minimum wage negotiation process to countries in the region such as Myanmar. Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Employees work at a garment factory in Yangon late last year. The ILO is considering exporting Cambodia’s minimum wage negotiation process to countries in the region such as Myanmar. Ye Aung Thu/AFP

Local wage talks to be model for other countries

Three years after the International Labour Organisation and the government instituted Cambodia’s tripartite minimum wage process, the practice is set to be exported to nearby garment exporting countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar, government and ILO officials said yesterday.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said that the ILO was considering taking the country’s wage determination procedure and applying it to South and Southeast Asian countries, given its successes in Cambodia.

“We have proven that sitting together [and discussing wage hikes] is better than striking on the streets,” Sour said. “So, if they don’t come up with an appropriate mechanism, strikes could happen in Myanmar and other countries.”

The Cambodian model would be helpful in Myanmar, which was emerging on the global garment market, and Bangladesh, where there was no formalised wage process, he added.

Cambodia’s negotiation process starts with bilateral consultations, followed by tripartite talks between government, unions and employers, where each party proposes a minimum wage request. A 28-member Labour Advisory Committee then votes to send one proposal to the Labour Ministry.

Maurizio Bussi, director of the ILO in Bangkok, confirmed that the Cambodian model had attracted attention from Bangladeshi officials, but said that it had to be adapted to individual countries’ needs and laws.

He said Cambodia’s process was based on international conventions and the ILO hoped to use certain features – trilateral negotiations and use of statistical data – to get other countries to adopt similar practices.

He did say, however, that the Cambodia’s system could use more transparency, where data used by one party should be shared with all other parties.

Moeun Tola, Executive Director of CENTRAL, said the process had its good points, but that it should not be exported in its current form because the LAC was heavily skewed towards the government, which has 14 of the 28 votes.

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