PM Warns Against Blocking Labor Law Amendment

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said the National Assemb­ly must pass a proposed amendment to the labor law that would cut night work wages from 200 to 130 percent of day rates and cautioned against any attempts to block the legislation.

Hun Sen said the pay cut would increase employment by 200,000 and boost garment factory orders by $2.6 billion a year.

“The amendment is the chance for you to send your children to work,” Hun Sen told an audience of some 2,000 new graduates at the National Institute of Education, adding that no other country in the world sets night wages so high. “The 200 percent demand is just a dream,” he said.

The garment sector is Cambo­dia’s largest export industry, generating over $2 billion annually, and it employs some 325,000 workers, according to the World Bank’s In­ternational Finance Corporation.

FTU President Chea Mony, who last week threatened a strike if the labor law amendment is passed, stuck by his demand on Tuesday to have night wages set at 150 percent of day rates and the work week reduced to 44 from 48 hours.

“The government cannot eliminate poverty by reducing workers’ salaries,” he said.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said he did not support cuts to worker wages. “The amendment should in­crease wages even higher,” he said, adding that he would push to have the legislation rejected.

Chey Rithy, who works the night shift at Phnom Penh’s Suntex garment factory, said he was “disappointed” by the plan to slash the night work rate. Garment factory wages are already too low, he said, adding that he can barely support his family, even at the 200 percent rate. “200 percent is not enough,” he said.

The minimum wage for garment workers is currently $45 a month.


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