The National Minimum Wage Board has begun talks to consider raising the $194 monthly wage for garment workers
Unions representing garment workers in Cambodia are demanding a monthly wage increase of between $20 and $50 for their members as part of talks with the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) which started yesterday.
The meeting at the Ministry of Labor brought together members of the National Minimum Wage Council comprising GMAC, Cambodian Confederation of Labor (CLC Cambodia), Free Trade Union (FTU), as well as factory associations, civil society organizations civilians and NGOs.
The National Minimum Wage Board is under the Ministry of Labour.
Ath Thorn, President of CLC Cambodia, said yesterday’s meeting was a preliminary meeting to gather information from stakeholders on the current state of affairs of the respective stakeholders.
“We reported to the Ministry of Labor and the National Minimum Wage Board on the daily expenses of the factory workers, the expenses for the daily food purchases of the workers and the savings to send home.
“In it, we told them about the problems of living with workers in rented rooms, who have to pay for water and electricity,” he said.
“However, the unions haven’t talked about the raise we’re looking for for 2023,” Thorn told the media after yesterday’s meeting.
According to Thorn, workers can get by on the current minimum wage of $190, but with the rising cost of living, the minimum wage will no longer be relevant and enough to live on into next year.
“Based on our calculations, a $20 to $50 increase in the existing base salary of $190 is reasonable because the cost of living has gone up and continues to go up,” Thorn added.
FTU President Toch Ser said her union group was eager to discuss the issue of wage increases.
“The meeting (yesterday) was purely to provide information to the National Wage Board to take into account when the discussion of the wage increase is on the table.
“We want workers’ wages to be increased because it will help to properly solve the problems of workers’ daily lives. We are, of course, mindful of employer issues and problems, especially those that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and closures, and that is why we are only asking for a small increase,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, the National Minimum Wage Council released a statement that the meetings to set the minimum wage for workers in the textile, garment, footwear, travel goods and bag industries for 2023 had officially started.
According to the statement, yesterday’s meeting heard the views of stakeholder representatives on developments in social (household status, inflation rate and cost of living) and economic (productivity, national competitiveness, labor market conditions and industry profit margins).
“Employers’ representatives and workers’ representatives were however unable to confirm certain figures, and will do so at a further meeting,” the statement said.
The statement said the board has scheduled meetings for August 24, 23 and September 7, 14, 22 and 23 to discuss the salary issue. The meetings will take place in the professional training room of the Ministry of Labour.
A worker at Trax Factory in Teuk Thla township, Pov Sreyneth, 20, said she was happy with the plan to increase wages for factory workers next year as wages are currently insufficient and expensive raw materials.
“Daily expenses have increased but the monthly salary remains between $200 and $350 depending on overtime.
“My monthly expenses are $65 for room rent, daily food of around 15,000 riels, and some money for clothes and other necessities.
“I send home about $100 to $150 to my parents, depending on what I earn for the month,” she said.
“An increase in wages for factory workers will help greatly. I hope the meeting can help give workers a decent life. A raise from $20 to $50 is not too much to ask,” she said.
Lou Chanrouen, a factory worker in Chom Chao commune, said the current salaries of factory workers are not enough to cover the workers’ daily expenses.
“I have to pay a lot of daily expenses, such as monthly room rent, daily food shopping and many other expenses, including sending money to my parents in the hometown, because they are old and do not can’t do anything for daily income, they just expect my salary to be sent to them for daily expenses as well,” he said.
“There is also the education of my children to pay. I don’t have much of a life apart from working and working to earn my monthly salary,” he said.