No deal in garment wage talks

Workers protest outside the Ministry of Labour
Workers protest outside the Ministry of Labour Pha Lina

No deal in garment wage talks

Minimum wage negotiations between garment industry unions and employer representatives remained in a stalemate after a meeting yesterday, with neither side willing to budge.

A coalition of unions is calling for the industry minimum wage to be raised to $177 a month, but employers say they can only afford $110 – a $10 bump from the current wage floor.

Minister of Labor and Vocational Training Ith Samheng, who facilitated the meeting, said that if a consensus was not reached by October 10, the two sides would take part in a Labor Advisory Committee vote on the issue.

Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn said: “I think that if the employers dare not increase the minimum wage like this, there will still be a deadlock or no solution for the final meeting next month.”

Thorn said that if the minimum wage was not lifted to a level that can provide decent living conditions for workers, his union would continue to hold protests.

Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said there was “always a chance” that the factory owners would consider agreeing to a higher minimum wage.

“In any case, the number of $110 is not what we are offering, it’s what we are saying is our ability to pay,” Loo said.

Loo said that a letter last Thursday from eight major global fashion brands committing to pay higher prices for stock would have “no effect” on the factory owners.

“It’s not meaningless, but it has no impact on the minimum wage negotiations,” he said.

“If all the buyers came together and gave a firm commitment [as to] the quantum of what the increase [they would offer], that would have an impact.”

Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center, said nothing was expected to be resolved until the final meeting in October.

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