Cambodia recently raised the monthly minimum wage of workers in the garment and footwear sector from $153 to $170, the highest hike in the past two years. The decision came after Prime Minister Hun Sen raised the wage by $5 after a committee, comprising representatives from the government, unions and employers, met on October 5 and agreed on a $165 value.

The hike, to be effective starting January 1 next year, is an year-on-year increase of 11 per cent, with the minimum wage increasing by less than 10 per cent in the two preceding years. Only in 2014, the first year of the tripartite negotiations, did wages increase more, rising 28 per cent following the nationwide wage protests of 2013.

Workers would also receive additional bonuses, including payments for accommodation and travel, as well as ‘seniority’ payments if they continue in the same job for more than two years, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng said. The government would also try to pass, at the earliest possible, a contentious universal minimum wage law under which other sectors would start receiving a base wage in an incremental fashion, quoted the Labour Minister as saying. The draft law has come under criticism for provisions to restrict independent research on wages and enact penalties for wage protests. Ath Thorn, President of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said that the significant wage hike was likely made with an eye on next year’s election.