Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unions, GMAC at the table

Unions, GMAC at the table

An employee checks pieces of denim against a template last year at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Chak Angre Krom commune.
An employee checks pieces of denim against a template last year at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Chak Angre Krom commune. Kimberley McCosker

Unions, GMAC at the table

Employer representatives and trade unions sat down across from each other for the first time yesterday for head-to-head negotiations over next year’s garment sector minimum wage, with factory owners reluctantly offering a small $2 increase to their earlier proposal of $144.20.

The two groups held a bilateral meeting at the Labour Ministry to exchange viewpoints on fluctuations in the calculations used to set next year’s wage, with discussions expected to continue today.

While 16 unions have gone into the negotiations asking for a $179.60 monthly wage, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) is pushing for a nominal increase of $4.20 to the current $140 wage.

“It was the first bilateral meeting with the unions and it was as good as it can be,” said GMAC spokesman Ken Loo. Despite offering a $2 increase to their initial offer, Loo said that GMAC was still hoping to keep wages close to its $144.20 proposal.

“Our official proposal is still $144.20. During negotiations, it is always a to-and-fro and different figures will be proposed, but we want to stick to our official proposal,” Loo added.

Cambodia Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn attributed GMAC’s $2 increase to their upping the inflation criteria from 3 per cent to 3.7 per cent, adding that while unions were considering lowering their own proposal, nothing had been decided yet.

The Labour Ministry uses seven economic and social factors to determine every year’s minimum wage, such as inflation, cost of living and productivity.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said employers gave two main reasons – high competitiveness in the global market and high input costs – as the reasons why they couldn’t increase wages any higher.

“They said this is all they can give and these were the difficulties [holding them back],” he added.

He said while the unions were willing to bring down their wage number, they wanted employer representatives to accurately account for changes in the seven criteria. Ahead of the negotiations, GMAC said they had only accounted for inflation to make their proposal.

On hearing about the ongoing negotiations, Keo Chomnan, a worker from Kampong Cham province’s Bloomsfield factory, said workers needed a higher wage because they could not make ends meet.

“The current minimum wage cannot sustain the livelihoods of workers, because the price of commodities is constantly increasing,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.