Trade unions agreed yesterday to lobby the government to double the minimum wage in the garment sector, representatives said, following two days of meetings.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said union delegates had agreed on the $120 per month figure ahead of a government meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
“I wanted $150 per month for workers,” Chhun said. “But I have to accept the consensus, which ended up being $120.
“I think the employers have the ability to provide workers with this amount.”
Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng said last month that unions needed to decide on exactly what they wanted before the government’s working group meets.
His words came in the wake of CCU calling for an increase to $150 and the Free Trade Union asking for $120.
The Cambodian Council of National Unions (CCNU), which was heavily involved in industry memorandum of understanding negotiations with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia last year, has called for an increase to $95.
GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said no country in the world could agree to a 100 per cent increase in the minimum wage.
“That reflects the immaturity of the unions,” he said.
GMAC, however, was supportive of a wage increase – something that wasn’t required until next year, Loo added.
“We need the workers to be realistic,” he said, declining to comment on what a realistic wage increase was.
European-based lobby group Clean Clothes Campaign said in a statement yesterday that it supported a $150 per month minimum wage, which it still deemed to be much lower than a “living wage”.
Dave Welsh, from the American Center for International Labour Solidarity, said his body had suggested a number of other initiatives during the talks.
“We pushed for not just a focus on an increase in wages in the garment industry, but also a national wage and a systematic approach to increasing it – reviewing it every year or 18 months,” he said.