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Garment wage talks fall apart

Garment workers protest against big name brands at Canadia Industrial Park last month
Garment workers protest against big name brands at Canadia Industrial Park last month. They held placards demanding a salary of $177 a month. Hong Menea

Garment wage talks fall apart

The tripartite working group set up to negotiate and advise the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) on next year’s minimum wage in Cambodia’s garment sector has stopped meeting after reaching a stalemate.

Made up of 27 members – nine each from employers, the government and unions – the group ended talks after a meeting last night, when employer representatives refused to budge from a monthly wage of $110 per month, said panel member Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

“Employers had no intention to increase wages to more than $110," Sina said. “The Labour Ministry said it could not be below $120," which is Cambodia’s poverty line.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary general Ken Loo refused to comment.

Formation of the working group was announced by Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng on October 14. Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour previously said the group would have no time limit, and would have to continue negotiating until reaching a consensus.

Sour could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The stalemate is not surprising, said Community Legal Education Center consultant Joel Preston, adding that the government had already formed enough committees and has enough information to decide 2015’s minimum wage.

“It’s just another example; we hear the government saying one thing, then the results are different,” Preston said. “We want to see dialogue, but we want to see results.”

Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union vice president Kong Athit said the group will send their report of each party’s suggested wage to the ministry.

All but one union agreed to accept $140. Over five meetings – the group was scheduled to meet each working day between October 20 and 30 – Cambodian Alliance Trade Union (CATU) president Yang Sophorn scoffed at settling for less than $177.

“I want all unions to keep the same stance, because it can show the employers that we are still strong,” Sophorn said.

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