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Wage group agrees on January 1 raises

A demonstrator holds a sign while shouting chants last year in Phnom Penh
A demonstrator holds a sign while shouting chants last year in Phnom Penh during protests to demand a higher minimum wage. Vireak Mai

Wage group agrees on January 1 raises

The group in charge of determining the national minimum wage for the garment sector yesterday agreed to increase salaries annually on January 1, determined by discussions that are to take place in the final quarter of each preceding year, officials said.

The agreement was signed during a meeting of the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC), attended by representatives of the ministry, trade unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

“We stand in unity together to protect the best interests of all within our system,” Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng said after signing the agreement.

Until now, minimum wage decisions were an ad hoc affair, with the LAC visiting the issue at irregular intervals and using no particular formula in determining wage scales.

Such an approach became apparent late last year when the LAC raised the minimum monthly wage from $80, which included a $5 health bonus, to $95, before Sam Heng unilaterally raised it to $100.

A specific equation for calculating minimum wages has not been decided, but the LAC will begin meeting about next year’s wages during the third quarter of each year.

They will vote on a specific number in the fourth quarter, which will go into effect every January 1, according to the document signed yesterday.

LAC members will have three chances to come up with a figure during the fourth quarter.

The first two meetings will be held with the goal of a unanimous decision.

If the first two votes fail to yield a unanimous result, a third meeting will be held, during which a majority vote will determine the next year’s new wage.

“We had a good result today, because we now have clear dates for minimum wage implementation,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union. “Before, we did not have an exact time frame for discussing the minimum wage.”

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