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Wage-setting meet up in air

A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest that saw Russian Boulevard blockaded by razor wire and riot police in Phnom Penh in December.
A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest that saw Russian Boulevard blockaded by razor wire and riot police in Phnom Penh in December. Vireak Mai

Wage-setting meet up in air

Exactly who will participate in a workshop to set the minimum wage in the garment sector with the Ministry of Labour this week remained unclear yesterday, with some key figures saying they had not yet been invited.

During the workshop, to be held on Thursday and Friday, the ministry, with technical assistance from the International Labour Organization, will begin discussions with union, NGO and industry leaders about setting a mechanism to calculate a fair minimum wage for garment industry workers, a Ministry of Labour letter, signed by secretary of state Oum Mean, says.

“I cannot say what I expect of the workshop, since the minimum-wage-setting process will not finish until the end of this year,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, after being invited to the event.

“I think the workshop is just the first step.”

As of yesterday, Ath Thorn, president of Cambodia’s largest independent garment union, the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), had not received an invitation.

“I expect to be invited, but until now I did not receive an invitation,” Thorn said.

Dave Welsh, country manager for labour rights group Solidarity Center, also remained unsure whether the meeting would go forward, having not received an invitation or heard about the event in weeks.

Noting that the court suddenly pushed the trial of 23 people arrested during January strike demonstrations from last Friday to April 25, Welsh said he believed it possible this event could also be delayed.

He added that he hoped 2014 wages – which garment workers continued to protest after the Labour Ministry announced a hike in the monthly wage to $100, rather than the $160 demanded – would be on the agenda.

“This can’t sort of be in a two-step pattern,” Welsh said. “There’s no reason to wait till January for everything to kick in.”

A spokesman from the Labour Ministry, which plans to set both the new wage-calculating mechanism and next year’s minimum wage by January, could not be reached.

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