Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Raise now or pay later?

Raise now or pay later?

Women work in a garment factory ironing material in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district
Women work in a garment factory ironing material in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district in September. Pha Lina

Raise now or pay later?

Garment workers' minimum wage could be set to increase substantially in one hit next year or incrementally over the next five years, depending on a Ministry of Labour announcement due next week.

A ministry working group comprising officials, labour union representatives and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) yesterday outlined three different schemes that would raise the minimum monthly wage of employees in garment and shoe factories from $80 to $160 by 2018.

The ministry is scheduled next Thursday to announce whether it will approach the wage raise by adding $16 annually for five years, raising it each year based on factors including the economy and inflation or upping the minimum wage to $160 next year.

“We don’t demand [a minimum wage hike] for 2018, we want it for 2014,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union and working group member. Thorn had insisted upon an immediate raise to $154 per month, he said, because workers are struggling.

A study released by UK-based NGO Labour Behind the Label and local rights group Equitable Cambodia in September places the “living wage” in Cambodia at $150 per month.

A sudden wage hike would greatly improve the lives of workers, and paying it should not be a problem for factory owners, Dave Welsh, country director for labour-rights group Solidarity Center, said.

“Frankly, this is well within the means of all the stakeholders,” Welsh said.

But Ken Loo, secretary-general of GMAC, said being forced to suddenly pay workers $160 could devastate many factories. “What Ath Thorn wants is basically impossible,” he said. “Nobody would be able to do that.”

Up to 60 car-loads of workers plan on standing outside the ministry next Thursday to await the announcement, Thorn said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by