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Ministry looking to lower workers’ night shift wages

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In 2007, night shift workers’ wages were reduced from 150 per cent to 130 per cent of the day rate. Heng Chivoan

Ministry looking to lower workers’ night shift wages

The Ministry of Labour is looking to reduce night shift workers’ wages to bring them in line with day rates. This, it said, will increase Cambodia’s competitiveness. However, unions and workers have slammed the move.

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng sent a letter on Thursday to relevant parties saying the ministry was preparing to amend the Labour Law with regards to night shift wages.

It also intends to end the compensatory days off and expand the scope of the Arbitration Council to resolve individual disputes.

Currently, the day following all public holidays that fall on a Sunday is an off day.

In the letter, the ministry said the amendment to the Labour Law was aimed at strengthening the Kingdom’s economic competitiveness.

“To make this amendment comprehensive and acceptable to all relevant parties, the ministry will organise a consultation workshop on amendments to the Labour Law in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation on January 16,” the letter said.

Pav Sina, the president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said on Monday that the moves – with night shift wages being 130 per cent of day work – would remove workers’ benefits and showed a lack of intent in resolving their challenges.

“I think the Ministry of Labour should be concerned with the interests of workers so that what is known as transparency between employers and workers is improved.

“But instead, [the ministry] thinks only of factory owners, while our workers still face many challenges, including transportation to the workplace and health and safety,” Sina said.

He said plans to reduce night shift wages and remove compensatory days off had resulted from the requests of employers.

He said while he would attend the consultation, he was not optimistic that the ministry would consider his concerns.

Ath Thorn, the president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), said on Monday that while the Labour Law was passed in 1997 to protect workers’ interests, later amendments had resulted in a loss of benefits.

He said in 2007, night shift workers’ wages were reduced from 150 per cent to 130 per cent of the day rate, with the ministry citing the need to attract more investors to Cambodia.

“In 2007, employers made a request to the ministry saying that if night shift wages were reduced, they would invest within 24 hours, creating jobs and increasing economic growth. But more than 10 years later, the situation is worse than before,” Thorn said.

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour declined to comment, while government spokesman Phay Siphan referred questions to Sour.

Som Aun, the president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia (NACC), said that while he did not know the reasons for amending the Labour Law, he said he would give an interview after attending the ministry’s workshop on Thursday.

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