Garment factory workers may soon begin receiving paychecks twice a month, if a request issued Friday by the Council of Ministers is enforced.
Prak Chanthoeurn, deputy director of the permanent inter ministerial Labor Dispute Committee, said a letter has been sent to the Labor Ministry, Social Affairs Ministry and the Council for the Development of Cambodia requesting they work together to ensure workers are paid not less than every 16 days.
The request stemmed from the recent closure of the Ospinter factory in Phnom Penh. The owner of Ospinter fled Cambodia in July shortly before he was to pay his 700 workers their month’s salary, Prak Chanthoeurn said, adding that the labor ministry has been ordered to initiate legal action against the company’s Chinese owner.
“Our law has existed for a long time but we never enforced it because we never had problems dealing with paying salaries for workers,” Prak Chanthoeurn said.
Article 116 of the 1997 Labor Law, he said, requires employees not engaged in manual labor to be paid monthly.
John Lu, general manager of the Garment Manufacturers Association, said his members were against paying salaries twice a month.
“The factory budgets are on a monthly basis,” Lu said. “The buyers pay on a monthly basis, and we pay rent monthly. This would be a big burden in terms of payroll costs on our factories,” he said.
Lu said that some owners believe garment workers do not constitute “laborers” in the strict sense intended by the labor law and therefore can be paid only once a month.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said he was excited but skeptical of the new Council of Ministers proposal.
“I am still worried that this will be useless information if owners still refuse to enforce it,” he said.