Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM muses on minimum wage growth

PM muses on minimum wage growth

Garment workers wait for Prime Minister Hun Sen in Por Sen Chey district on Wednesday, where the premier indicated the sector’s minimum wage will increase to around $250 by 2023. Facebook
Garment workers wait for Prime Minister Hun Sen in Por Sen Chey district on Wednesday, where the premier indicated the sector’s minimum wage will increase to around $250 by 2023. Facebook

PM muses on minimum wage growth

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday indicated that the garment sector’s minimum wage could reach $250 in the next five years, up from the current level of $170, with a prominent unionist dismissing the projected increase as insufficient to meet workers’ living costs.

Speaking to workers in Por Sen Chey district, the premier said the Cambodian People’s Party had calculated a target minimum wage for 2023, but refused to divulge the estimation.

“I request to not give the exact number, and give the possibility to the annual minimum wage negotiations to decide the wage,” he said.

For the past four years, the minimum wage has been decided following tripartite negotiations involving members from the government, unions and employers. In October, the wage was increased from $153 to $170, including a customary $5 bump mandated by Hun Sen himself.

On Wednesday, the premier referred to unspecified “economic experts”, who had pegged the 2023 wage at $250, saying the government would look to get to this number, or more, in an incremental fashion.

“So we have to set an incremental, step-by-step program, and the actual wage may be even more than that, but we also have to think about the competition in the region,” he said.

The premier added that since wages were going to increase, workers should also help to “defend the peace” to ensure economic and job stability.

However, Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions leader Yang Sophorn said the dangling of a higher minimum wage number by the premier was linked to the July 29 national elections.

Additionally, she said that Hun Sen was in charge of the government, which held half of the tripartite group members, and could therefore easily push the wage higher if he chose.

“Actually the prime minister is the top man in power in Cambodia. The prime minister has powers to influence the wage, so he is able to add more [to the] wage,” Sophorn said.

The potential wage raise was rejected by garment worker Sat Sophy, from Por Sen Chey, who said workers were barely making ends meet with the current wage levels.

“It is not acceptable that for the next five years the wage increases just $80, especially when the government can’t prevent market price increases,” Sophy said, adding that wage increases were nullified by increases in rent and other living costs.

Ken Loo, spokesman for the employer representative Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, would only say that the wage would be determined through the tripartite negotiations, but that the government likely had a target in mind.

Bent Gehrt, who is the Southeast Asia field director for the Worker’s Right Consortium, said that while it was encouraging the government was open to wage increases, recent experiences have shown the increases can be more than expected.

“Thus there is still room for negotiation beyond this figure, and there is precedence for this as in the end of 2013, the [Labour Advisory Committee] agreed to an increase to $160 by 2018, but that did not prevent further negotiations in the following years,” he said, referring to the tripartite mechanism.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At