In the latest meeting of the National Council on Minimum Wage (NCMW) regarding 2024 wage determination for the textile, garment, bag, footwear and travel goods sectors, both parties have reached an agreement to conclude negotiations by September 28.

Representatives from the workers’ side have maintained their stance at $215, while employer representatives have advocated for $201.

Following a meeting on September 11, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour told reporters that each party will internally review and refine its official position.

These updated requests will be submitted separately to the NCMW for resolution on September 18.

Concerning the disparity in figures between the representatives of the workers and those of the employers, Sour asserted that both parties’ proposals are rooted in criteria related to the economic and social landscape.

Workers’ proposals are influenced by inflation, while employers’ proposals take into account factors such as competition, industry needs and challenges.

“This year, no country has increased the minimum wage. So, when we raise it and others don’t, employers are concerned that buyers might shift their orders to other countries, as our minimum wage is denominated in US dollars,” he explained.

“In other countries, they don’t factor in wage increases along with the depreciation of their currencies, which results in even lower wages in dollars. This year, the situation is challenging because Cambodia is not the sole producer in the sectors,” he added.

However, he said the government will attempt to facilitate a resolution between the two parties, striving for a consensus in negotiations.

In the event a consensus cannot be reached, a final vote will be the course of action.

Nang Sothy, the representative of the employers’ side, explained that their proposed wage increase was adjusted to $201.50.

They urged the union to accept this adjustment, to no avail.

Consequently, the NCMW opted to retain the existing figure of $201, permitting both parties to conduct internal meetings to settle on the figures for discussion on September 18.

“Employers have faith in the government’s ability to mediate and arrive at a fair amount. By September 18, the definitive figures will be established, and on September 28, an official vote will be conducted. Following this, we will seek the government’s final decision in principle,” he stated.

Kim Chansamnang, representing the workers, also expressed that the workers’ side will persist in their discussions to identify figures that are agreeable to all parties in the upcoming meeting.

“In our next meeting, there is a possibility that the figures might undergo alterations, as we need to engage in discussions with our 17-member union. Some of the comments have not received consensus yet, so we intend to delve deeper into these deliberations,” he explained.

The labour minister also mentioned that Prime Minister Hun Manet will conduct a review to streamline the business environment in Cambodia during the upcoming public-private sector forum, scheduled for November. The goal is to create a more favourable environment for investment and business operations in collaboration with the private sector.