The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on Thursday officially announced the composition of the National Council on Minimum Wage as it began its first term.
The ministry said the minister, Ith Sam Heng, will chair the body, while workers’ representative Som Aun and employers’ representative Nang Sothy will act as vice-chairs.
Negotiations for setting the 2020 minimum wage will continue in early September, the ministry said.
More than 50 labour ministry officials, along with worker and employer representatives, held discussions on Thursday to determine the composition, organisation and functioning of the National Council on Minimum Wage during its first term.
A joint statement issued by the ministry after the meeting said: “A presentation was made on the main statistics for parties to take into account when applying the seven key criteria in negotiating a minimum wage in the textile, garment and footwear sectors for 2020. Discussions will continue on September 3, 2019, and subsequent dates.”
The aforementioned seven criteria in Article 5 of the Law on Minimum Wage include social factors like family status, the inflation rate and cost of living, as well as economic criteria like productivity, the country’s competitiveness, labour market status and the profitability of each sector.
The poverty line is also a factor to be considered when discussing the minimum wage in Cambodia.
Sam Heng said this was the first meeting held by the National Council on Minimum Wage after the body’s establishment by the Law on Minimum Wage.
He did not state a minimum wage figure being discussed for 2020 in negotiations, but he said the body was aiming to agree to one before the Pchum Ben festival on September 27.
Sam Heng hoped both sides would be flexible on the negotiation table until they reach a joint solution.
“Each party has its data that has been studied. So we will take all the data to be discussed with each other to see what the difference is. We will take all the data to be calculated and come out with a minimum wage figure for 2020,” he said.
The government has introduced a policy increasing the minimum wage for garment workers every year since 2014. This year’s minimum wage is set at $182 per month.
Pav Sina, the president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said that although minimum wage negotiations were positive, they will prove difficult while Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) status remains unclear.
He said the government’s recent scrapping of six public holidays introduced further complications to negotiations.
Sina believes that the 2020 minimum wage should be increased by 15 per cent, or around $27 per month.
“While a 15 per cent wage increase is proposed for this discussion, I hope that all parties will consider discussing other benefits for workers, especially with regards to transportation and ensuring their safety, as currently there are many traffic accidents.”
The council’s vice-chairs Aun, who is President of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia, and Sothy, a representative of professional employer organisations, could not be reached for comment yesterday.