Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wages on par with regional standard: PM

Wages on par with regional standard: PM

Wages on par with regional standard: PM

Amid calls for the government to raise Cambodian garment workers’ minimum monthly wage to $160, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that wages garment workers earn fall in line with regional standards.

In a speech at a groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge project in Kandal province yesterday, the premier asserted that garment workers in neighbouring countries and Cambodian workers in other industries earn less than Cambodian apparel workers, and garment factories cannot afford the increase unions demand.

“I asked the Vietnamese Prime Minister about the minimum wage of garment workers in Vietnam; he said they get more than $100 per month,” Hun Sen said. “If [we] compare this to our increase to $100, it’s nearly the same as Vietnam, but higher than India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Laos.”

Hun Sen added that garment factories could not afford a sudden jump to $160 from last year’s minimum wage decree of $80, which includes a $5 health bonus.

But the annual revenue raked in by the relatively few garment factories seems to contradict factory owners’ insistence that higher minimum wages would devastate their bottom lines, said Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center.

“It’s a $5.5 billion industry with just over 500 factories,” Welsh said yesterday.

However, the $5.5 billion figure can be misleading, said Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). The total annual export value of products produced by Cambodian garment factories is about $5.5 billion, but factories do not necessarily see that much in profits.

GMAC has publicly scoffed at Ministry of Labour plans to raise the minimum wage to $160 by 2018, even trying to urge the ministry to raise wages only to $130 over five years a day after the ministry working group outlined its plan.

Loo and factory owners have pointed out that most factory workers earn more than minimum wage, after bonuses and overtime. But Welsh said workers generally earn extra money from working excessive overtime hours nearly every day.

Nam-Shik Kang, owner of Injae Garment Co Ltd, said in an email yesterday that the wage hike would cost his factory $500,000 each month. The factory earns only about $100,000 in annual profits,
he said.

In spite of Hun Sen’s assertion yesterday, workers remain firm in their wage demand, Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said.

“Our demand is based on the cost of living,” Sina said. “We based our demand on the [Labour Ministry working group’s] research.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the