Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Poverty line $120, gov’t says

Poverty line $120, gov’t says

Garment workers protest on Veng Sreng Boulevard in Phnom Penh last month
Garment workers protest on Veng Sreng Boulevard in Phnom Penh last month during a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $177. Hong Menea

Poverty line $120, gov’t says

Workers in Cambodia’s capital earning less than $120 per month are living below the poverty line, according to the Ministry of Planning’s own calculation.

At a September 17 workshop on the garment industry minimum wage, International Labour Organization Cambodia national director Tun Sophorn cited Ministry of Planning data that put the poverty line at $120, he said yesterday.

“One hundred and twenty dollars in Phnom Penh is the poverty line [according to the Planning Ministry],” Sophorn said, adding that the ILO was still investigating this figure.

The information comes as the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee prepares to set next year’s garment sector minimum wage on October 10. The current industrial minimum monthly wage is $100, putting garment workers earning minimum wage $20 below the poverty line.

Chief of the Planning Ministry’s national accounts unit Keo Chettra could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Free Trade Union president Chea Mony questioned how “people who carry this industry” could be paid below $120.

“Cambodians in this industry … continue to provide millions of dollars for the economy,” he said.

Garments account for more than 80 per cent of Cambodia’s total exports.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has said it can afford to pay a $110 minimum wage. But GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo yesterday said in addition to the $110 is a $10 attendance bonus and a $7 transportation and housing bonus, making its total offer $127 per month.

Not many garment workers earn only minimum wage, Loo said. The poverty line and minimum wage, he added, are not relevant to one another.

“How are they related? [Minimum wage] might be, it could be, but it isn’t by default [what workers earn],” Loo said, noting that many earning the floor wage are new to the industry or in a probationary period.

Dave Welsh, country directory for labour rights group Solidarity Center, said he thought GMAC’s minimum wage offer of $110 when the Planning Ministry’s poverty line in Phnom Penh was $120 “highlights philosophically where they’re at in this argument”.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro