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Minimum wage talks loom

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Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng has announced that internal negotiations for the 2021 minimum wage for workers in the textile, garment and footwear industries will begin next month. Hean Rangsey

Minimum wage talks loom

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng has announced that internal negotiations for the 2021 minimum wage for workers in the textile, garment and footwear industries will begin next month.

According to a ministry announcement signed by Sam Heng on Wednesday, union representatives, employers and government officials will convene meetings separately and deliberate on how to present their cases.

After August wages are paid, the three sides will come together and start having official discussions on the matter.

Unions, meanwhile, fear the negotiations could be tense as the Covid-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to the global economy.

Sam Heng said the final decision on the minimum wage will be made at a council meeting in September and will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

“All parties will use official and legal data and technical research. Social characteristics [family situation, inflation rate and daily expenses] and economic evaluations [productivity, the competitiveness of the country, market situation, and profits of all sectors] will also play a large role,” he said.

The poverty line will also be evaluated and discussed to determine common ground for each party involved in the negotiations, he added.

Since 2014, the government has implemented several policies to increase the minimum wages of workers in the textile, garment and footwear sectors each year.

The minimum wage for this year was previously set to $190 per month.

Pav Sina, the president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, confirmed that the parties involved will start discussing the minimum wage separately next month.

He expects the unique threat posed by Covid-19 will lead to more contentious negotiations than in years past.

“We know that the previous negotiations, even though there were no serious problems, there were some assertions from employers which caused a stir. The negotiations this year will be more tense than in other years.”

As a union representative, he said he is glad and ready to join the discussion. He expects unions to form a research group to find scientific sets of data which can be used in the negotiations.

Kaing Monika, the deputy secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, told The Post on Thursday that employers in the textile sectors throughout the world are in a difficult situation and are uncertain about the future of their industry.

“The World Bank also predicted that the world economy this year will drop five per cent. During such difficult times, a discussion on raising wages is not totally suitable,” he said.

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