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

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy