Trade unions representing garment workers in Cambodia are demanding a $21 rise in the minimum wage for their members while factory owners want them held at the current level of $194 a month. Those are the positions of the two sides in the annual negotiations with the National Council on Minimum Wage (NCMW) overseen by the Ministry of Labour which said both sides had put their cases “clearly and professionally”.
No decision has yet been made following the most recent meeting – which lasted for more than three hours – and the negotations will resume at a third meeting scheduled for Wednesday 31st August.
Ministry spokesman Heng Sour told a press conference: “The Ministry mediated the meeting and presented the government’s views on issues that were raised by the unions and GMAC (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia).
“We listened to the reasons and arguments and perspectives of each party for the garment and footwear sectors, and we also examined the export potential and competitiveness of the industry.” Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina told the Khmer Times that the talks were “going on smoothly”. “Considering that inflation in 2022 was about five per cent while income for the footwear and textile sector increased by more than 10 percent, the $215 that was asked for is reasonable,” he said.
Tep Chanthol, a garment worker in Kampong Speu province, who said workers needed a sustantial rise: “A US$1 or US$2 rise will not support my daily needs. We all know how much things have gone up in price so the increase must reflect the rise in the cost of living,” she said.
Kaing Monika, Deputy Secretary-General of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), told the that it acknowledged the plight of workers, but said factory owners also needed to remain competitive with rival supply countries such as Vietnam.
“Although exports in the first half of this year were good, we are very concerned about the export situation for the second half of this year, given the unstable global situation and the possibility of an economic downturn, mostly in the West, which is Cambodia’s main garment export market,” he said.