Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Minimum wage talks begin

Minimum wage talks begin

Labour Ministry Chief of Cabinet Heng Sour (centre) chairs a meeting to discuss increases to the Kingdom’s garment sector minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Labour Ministry Chief of Cabinet Heng Sour (centre) chairs a meeting to discuss increases to the Kingdom’s garment sector minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Minimum wage talks begin

Members of the tripartite Labour Advisory Committee – composed of representatives of the government, employers and unions – yesterday put forth their proposals for next year’s minimum wage for the garment and footwear sector, kicking off the annual negotiations that will culminate on October 5.

Every year the Labour Advisory Committee convenes to determine an increase to the sector’s base wage, with a 48-member subcommittee presenting each bloc’s preferred figures yesterday.

The government proposed a $162.67 monthly salary, slightly higher than the employers’ proposal of $161. The unions, meanwhile, proposed $176.25, a more than 15 percent increase from the current $153 wage, which includes a now routine $5 bump decreed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The figures will ultimately be presented for a final vote by a 28-member committee – 14 members from the government’s side, and seven each from employers and unions.

This year’s wage negotiations come after Prime Minister Hun Sen – currently on a weekslong charm offensive to woo garment workers – announced that next year’s wage will be more than $160. He has repeated the promise in recent speeches and during visits to factories and industrial parks in and around Phnom Penh.

Ministry of Labour Chief of Cabinet Heng Sour, who chaired the meeting, said the government’s proposed figure was only for reference, adding that it was up to the employers and unions to find a middle ground on next year’s wage.

“We provide it just as basic reference for both parties to agree on a closer number,” he said “Because it is the employer party who has to pay the wage and workers who will receive it.”

He said the hope was that the “big gap” between the two proposals would become smaller in coming meetings.

While all sides have used a 3.5 percent inflation figure provided by the National Institute of Statistics, Ken Loo, secretary-general for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said employers had also factored in a small increase for productivity.

The bump, he said, was “based on the way the Ministry of Labour has presented” improvements to productivity. He added that he was hopeful the final figure would be close to their proposal and declined comment on the union’s $176 demand.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, which had last month called for a $223 base wage, said the $176 figure was a unanimous proposal put forth by all unions involved.

“With the current situation, we cannot do more. And within the unions’ discussions there were many more pro-government unions, so we have to agree,” he said.

Chhuon Momthol, president of the pro-government Cambodia Confederation of Trade Union, did not comment on yesterday’s proceedings, though Tep Kimvannary, president of the government-aligned Cambodian Federation Independent Trade Union, said the employers’ proposal of a 5 percent increase was too low.

“We want at least 10 percent. The unions still feel 5 percent is low,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to