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

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped