Gov’t Calls for Minimum Wage Hike Ahead of Planned Strikes

The government is calling for a joint policy making body on labor to raise garment workers’ salaries during their meeting this coming Sunday, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Social Affairs on Friday. The move follows an announcement by the Free Trade Union earlier this month that its workers would strike if the minimum wage was not increased.

“The government is supporting a minimum increase of $5, and an additional allowance of $6, on top of the current salary of garment workers,” the statement read. The current minimum salary for garment workers is $50 per month, which would rise to $61 under the government’s plan.

The Labor Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from the Labor Ministry, the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia and a CPP-affiliated labor union, will meet on Sunday to discuss the wage hike, the statement read.

On May 23 the FTU, which claims to represent approximately 80,000 garment factory workers, voted to strike if the LAC failed to approve a 20 percent increase in salaries by the end of May. On June 15 union president Chea Mony informed the Interior Ministry of the union’s plan to hold a work stoppage from July 13 to 15.

Secretary of State for the Labor Ministry Oum Mean said yesterday that the government recommended a minimum $11 increase to all garment workers’ salaries, but added he did not know if the LAC would adopt the suggestion. “I could not comment on how much the LAC will raise [wages] until we meet,” he said.

GMAC Chairman Van Sou Ieng said that the association had its own ideas about potential wage increases, and would not necessarily adopt the government plan. “It is just the government’s recommendation but we need to make our recommendation too,” he said.

Mr Mean dismissed suggestions that the meeting was related to the FTU’s strike threat. The meeting “is not a response to pressure from the FTU,” he said.

Mann Seng Hak, a member of the FTU council, said that the union would wait for the committee’s decision. “If the ministry agrees to raise the minimum wage, we will consider stopping the strike,” he said.


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