The government set the new monthly minimum wage for the country’s billion-dollar garment sector at $140 on Thursday—up from $128—more than what factory owners wanted but far less than the raise demanded by some unions.
The announcement of the decision followed a morning vote of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC), which proposed a figure of $135 that was then bumped up by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“Today we decided on $135,” Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng told reporters. “This is an acceptable result, although we have not satisfied all the parties…. The prime minister added $5, so it’s $140.”
Members of the LAC—made of up 14 government representatives and seven each from the factories and unions—cast one vote each on proposals from the three sides: $133 from the factories, $135 from the government, and $160 from the unions.
All but four of the votes were cast for $135. The unions’ proposal garnered two votes and the factories suggestion attracted none. Two representatives abstained.
The new figure will take effect on January 1, and was decided after months of negotiations failed to achieve a hoped-for consensus.
The factories eased off their initial position that they could not afford any raise whatsoever next year, while the most strident unions gradually whittled down their starting demand for $207. Before Thursday’s vote, they had failed to narrow the gap between $133 and $160.
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