The National Council on Minimum Wage (NCMW) has set September 11 as the date for its next gathering to discuss setting the 2024 minimum income for workers in the textile, garment, footwear, travel goods and bag sectors.

A September 4 NCMW press release announced that discussions on that same day had progressed well. Both sides presented their rationales and underlying positions for their proposed figures during the ongoing talks.

Representatives from the government used the session to further explain their points and address various aspects of the two proposals. This led to a reevaluation by the workers’ side, resulting in a suggested compensation of $215, with employers maintaining their position at $201.

Addressing the media, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour, noted that the proposals may undergo revisions in subsequent discussions.

“Our goal is to enhance coordination and mutual understanding among all parties. Thus, we aim to bring the numbers closer together before reaching a final agreement prior to the upcoming Pchum Ben festival,” he added.

Kim Chansamnang, deputy chief representative of the Workers’ Professional Organization, highlighted that their proposed figure was based on seven economic and social criteria and other technical specifications, emphasising a grounded approach in reaching the number. He said he felt confident that further discussions would lead to a harmonious resolution.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), explained that the employer’s proposal was modest but could be interpreted as a trial figure. He pointed out that employers were cautious about exceeding the $200 threshold.

“While in previous years various parties would present their advice, this year, the labour ministry refrained from suggesting a number. This approach allows room for negotiations between the parties,” he said.

Nang Sothy, deputy chief representative of the Employers’ Professional Organization for the third mandate of the NCMW, clarified that their side would adhere to a principled stance against surpassing $200. After evaluating economic and social criteria, a one-dollar addition was considered, due to a recommendation from the current administration.

“As previously stated during the past two meetings, we were inclined to maintain the status quo due to the economic challenges the garment industry is facing. However, after considering the government’s advice, we agreed to a minimal increase of one dollar,” he said.

He believed that the $215 figure would undergo further scrutiny in subsequent meetings.

As a point of reference, the official monthly minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors during 2023 stood at $198, with former Prime Minister Hun Sen contributing an additional $2, resulting in a total of $200. Regular attendance bonuses, travel allowances and seniority rates mean workers currently have the potential to earn between $217 and $228 per month.