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Unions’ wage demand inches down on Day 2 of meet

People attend a tripartite meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in Phnom Penh earlier this week to discuss the garment industry’s minimum wage. Photo supplied
People attend a tripartite meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in Phnom Penh earlier this week to discuss the garment industry’s minimum wage. Photo supplied

Unions’ wage demand inches down on Day 2 of meet

Trade unions yesterday agreed to lower their $179.60 demand for next year’s garment sector minimum wage by $2, attributing the small concession to a similarly modest increase proposed by employer representatives to their own $144 counter-proposal on Wednesday.

Meeting at the Labour Ministry on the second day of bilateral negotiations yesterday, unions said they were reciprocating the increase to $146.37 offered by employer representatives on Wednesday by bringing down their wage demand to $177.59.

“It’s part of the negotiation procedure, but [wages] will increase more. Unions have a strategy to push for more,” said Ath Thorn, who heads the Cambodian Labour Confederation.

Fellow unionist Far Sally said unions were unwilling to go below the new number, given that their research showed that workers needed at least $171 to make a living. But, he said, “We are not trying to raise the salary too high, because then investors will turn from Cambodia to Myanmar.”

Both Sally and Thorn said protests would be the last resort and that workers would be the final arbiters of whether a wage was satisfactory or not.

The two groups will meet with the Labour Ministry on September 26 for tripartite talks, with Ken Loo, spokesman for manufacturers body GMAC, saying he was hopeful the ministry would be able to arbitrate an acceptable wage despite the $31 difference in their proposals.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga

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