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Workers’ minimum wages on table

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Garment workers leave their factory during lunch break in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Heng Chivoan

Workers’ minimum wages on table

The National Council on Minimum Wage (NCMW) will begin negotiating the 2022 minimum wages for workers in the textile, garment and footwear sectors in September, according to Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour.

Worker unions and labour rights groups believe that the minimum wage in the sector should increase from $192 to $200 a month.

Sour told The Post on August 15 that the tripartite minimum wage negotiations for 2022 were scheduled for September and may be conducted online.

Each year in July, the NCMW begins internal discussions on the minimum wage. Bilateral and multi-party discussions often take place informally in August and the formal meetings to decide the minimum wage are then held in September.

Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn told The Post on August 15 that the unions were conducting research and gathering data in order to reach a figure that they would request as the wage increase for workers in 2022.

“So far, the unions have not yet set any figures for the negotiations because we are still doing the research. I can see that negotiations for this minimum wage are going to be hindered by the Covid-19 crisis, but we are ready to talk,” he said.

Ath Thorn added that the unions will try their best to get a wage increase for all workers. They previously suggested a $200 minimum wage for 2022.

Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, said he expects the minimum wage in 2022 to be increased to $200.

“I expect that the government as well as employers will increase the minimum wage in 2022 to at least $200 a month and I am optimistic that it will reach this level,” he said.

He added that workers were still experiencing great difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic but exports seemed to be improving, which is a positive sign.

Sorn Sok, a 30-year-old worker at CG Glory Manufacturing in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said he expected to receive higher wages in 2022 than he does this year.

“If the wage increase in 2022 is lower than what we get this year, I will be disappointed because that is too little for us. But we will still accept it because everyone has the same problem these days: Covid-19,” he said.

According to the ministry, during the negotiations all sides use legal arguments, scientific research and economic criteria like the rate of inflation and the cost of living, productivity, competitiveness, labour market conditions and levels of profit in the sector as the basis for their arguments about the minimum wage.

This year, factory workers in the textiles, garments and footwear sectors have received a $2 minimum wage increase from $190 to $192.

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