Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry drafting new minimum wage law to cover all workers



Ministry drafting new minimum wage law to cover all workers

Garment workers protest on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard last year, demanding a raise to the industry’s minimum wage.
Garment workers protest on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard last year, demanding a raise to the industry’s minimum wage. Heng Chivoan

Ministry drafting new minimum wage law to cover all workers

The Labour Ministry said last week it was drafting a minimum wage law that would expand beyond the garment industry and cover all workers, a proposal that drew cautious praise from union leaders and advocates, along with a healthy dose of scepticism.

The proposed law, revealed on Thursday by Labour Minister Ith Samheng via his Facebook page, was decidedly light on details but called for the creation of a National Wage Council to provide recommendations for the expanded monthly salary requirement.

There was no mention of when the law would be ready or how it would be implemented. Currently, only garment and footwear workers are entitled to a $140 monthly minimum wage, which will increase to $153 beginning in January.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour, who could not be reached yesterday, said in a text message sent to journalists on Friday that the new law would be implemented in a “step-by-step” manner across sectors, depending on their social and economic development.

“I want to emphasise that this draft law is just a collection of what we have been implementing,” Sour said, adding that wage procedures were being put into law form to ensure more clarity.

Sour did not clarify if the tripartite body through which the garment sector’s minimum wage is currently decided would be affected by the proposed National Wage Council.

Morm Rithy, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, said setting a minimum wage for his sector’s estimated 400,000 workers was needed, but questioned the government’s will to follow through. “I think the most important factor in this is the ministry. If the ministry is willing to decide the law, it should be implemented,” he said.

Sok Kin, deputy president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said there was a chance the law was being drafted with an eye towards the upcoming elections, but said that could “benefit both workers and the government”.

While construction workers are on average paid similarly or better than garment workers, Kin said a new law would provide more certainty and help unions monitor and push for better wages across the sector.

William Conklin, country director for advocacy group Solidarity Center, said there was no question a national minimum wage was needed, but warned against creating a complicated, multitiered wage structure that would be hard to implement.

“They have to look at it practically. The aim should be the most equitable and simplest structure,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian