Hun Sen Announces Raises for Teachers, Nurses

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced a three-stage plan to raise the salaries of civil servants working under the Education and Health ministries, with the first increase to come in September.

Speaking to graduating students at Beltei University in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said that the minimum monthly wage for teachers would be raised from about $105 to about $138 by April next year.

“Starting in September, [teachers’ salaries] will increase to 505,000 riel [about $126]; between January and March, they will increase to 507,000 riel; and in April, they will increase to 552,800 riel [about $138]. This is for the people who have the lowest salary,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“The highest salary is 1,667,000 riel [about $410], but please understand each other: We cannot increase yet. We need to have more discussions,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

While teacher salaries are set to increase from next month, the prime minister said a timeframe and increments for the health sector wage increases had not yet been set.

Mr. Hun Sen also apologized to police and military officials, whose wages he said he could not afford to raise yet.

The wages of the nation’s civil servants—including an estimated 110,000 teachers and 20,000 people working under the Health Ministry—will now be separated into three levels, rather than four.

Teachers agitated for a pay rise on the back of mass wage strikes in the garment sector in December and January. At the time, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and the opposition CNRP campaigned for teachers to earn $250 monthly, but Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said that was not fathomable under the current budget.

Rong Chhun, president of CITA, which has more than 10,000 members, welcomed the prime minister’s announcement on Thursday, but said the raise was not enough.

“I wish the government would raise to 1 million riel [about $250],” Mr. Chhun said.

“If Mr. Hun Sen considers raising to 1 million riel to be shameful for him as it is a model proposed by CITA and the CNRP, then he can raise to 1.2 million riel.”

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