The Ministry of Labour yesterday met with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the industry trade group, to discuss the reasons behind the latter’s proposal of a $144 monthly minimum wage.
The talks come shortly after the start of the annual minimum wage negotiations between the ministry, GMAC and unions.
The ministry and GMAC were tight-lipped about the meeting. GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo cited confidentiality in declining to comment, adding that the association would hold talks with unions before speaking to the media.
Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the ministry wanted to hear the factory owners’ outlook on the seven economic and social factors the government considers when formulating the increase to the minimum wage.
“This is the first step, so we requested them to have a meeting, but we are not setting a wage figure,” he said, adding that unions would meet GMAC representatives on Wednesday.
At the first tripartite meeting on Friday, the three sides put forward their suggestions for the 2017 monthly minimum wage: GMAC and the ministry proposed $144.20 and $148.20, respectively, while most unions are seeking $179.60. The current monthly minimum wage is $140.
GMAC has previously complained that a large hike to the minimum wage would compound ongoing problems, including declining orders, low productivity and a “bad situation”.
The garment sector is Cambodia’s largest formal employer, with about 700,000 workers, and its key foreign exchange earner.