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Ministry to study Covid-19 effects before wage talks

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The study will take the form of a survey into how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the livelihoods of workers in the textile, garment and footwear sectors. Hong Menea

Ministry to study Covid-19 effects before wage talks

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training plans to carry out a study concerning the effects of the Covid-19 situation on workers in the textile, garment and footwear sectors ahead of a meeting on the 2021 minimum wage.

The ministry on Monday informed business owners, managers and workers about the study, which will take the form of a survey into how the virus has impacted their livelihoods.

The general secretariat and the National Council on Minimum Wage are conducting the survey from July 17-31 with workers chosen randomly in Phnom Penh and the provinces.

Labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour said on Monday: “They do this work during every negotiation on a minimum wage to guide the National Council on Minimum Wage.”

He did not reveal how many workers will be interviewed.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said three studies are carried out every year by representatives from factories, the ministry and unions.

Sina said Covid-19 has dramatically affected workers who have been suspended from work and lost benefits.

“They had their employment contracts terminated. Some factories have shut down. Union representatives will have a working group to conduct the study into their livelihoods soon,” he said.

Sina is still requesting that a minimum wage for workers be raised.

“I think the effects on the workers are very serious. If we don’t think of their livelihoods, it will affect their health,” he said.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has requested the ministry to delay negotiations on the 2021 minimum wage, saying it is vulnerable to the Covid-19 crisis.

GMAC deputy secretary-general Kaing Monica said on Monday the GMAC would discuss a minimum wage at the appointed time, like every year. This discussion would be based on two criteria – social and economic.

Monika said the annual wage discussion is held to review wage levels and doesn’t mean wages have to be raised every year. Wage minimum levels can be raised, fixed or reduced based on social and economic criteria.

He said the social criteria will focus on family situations, living standards, and inflation rates, but economic criteria has to focus on production volume and growth – whether it is positive or negative.

Factors include Cambodia’s competitiveness, free trade and other relevant points. A study should focus on sector revenue and employment numbers.

“GMAC will focus on the economic factors like employment productivity, the degree of competitiveness of the sector and job market impacts. We don’t study social impacts because we reference the figures from the National Institute of Statistics.

“If we look at the actual Covid-19 situation, we will understand easily that we will not be able to raise wages when we look at the global and Cambodian economic situations. We should not expect a positive result from our wage discussion,” Monika said.

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