An announcement by the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia on Wednesday that they have provisionally agreed to Free Trade Union requests for a $5 raise in the minimum wage has likely come too late to halt strikes planned for today, FTU President Chea Mony said.
The FTU has been pushing for a raise in the minimum monthly wage from $50 to $55 for garment and shoe factory workers.
GMAC Deputy President Kong Sang said that GMAC provisionally agreed to the raise on Wednesday during a meeting with FTU officials at the Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh. He said he invited the FTU to further discuss the matter at a meeting of the National Assembly’s labor commission Monday and urged the union to halt the proposed strikes in the meantime.
“GMAC accepted FTU’s request, but we will discuss with the [labor commission]…. We don’t want conflict because we will lose benefits,” Kong Sang said.
Chea Mony said he had accepted GMAC’s invitation to discuss the issue Monday but wouldn’t consider his demands met until there is an agreement from the government.
Chea Mony also said he would try to postpone the strikes but didn’t think he would be able to reach the majority of participants in time.
“I can’t [postpone] the strike because GMAC informed us very late,” he said. Strikes have been planned at 148 factories in six provinces and municipalities, according to Chea Mony. He estimated that 80 percent of workers wouldn’t be reachable in time.
Kong Sang said that Chea Mony could stop the strikes if he wanted to, and that GMAC, which represents around 300 factories, still needed to confer with all members before finalizing any deals with the FTU.
Labor Ministry Undersecretary of State Oum Mean said he wasn’t aware of Wednesday’s meeting, but was glad to hear both sides had held meetings.
He also said that he couldn’t say whether the government would agree to the raise because the issue was still under discussion.