Garment Workers’ Wages Below Minimum Living Standard: Survey

The results of a survey of 353 garment industry workers released Monday suggest that the workers need a 10 to 43 percent jump in their salaries to reach what would be considered an appropriate living wage.

A five-page summary of the survey’s results indicates garment workers currently earn on average $79 a month. Remove overtime and bonuses from that and the average earnings per month equal $67, the survey found.

The survey, conducted by Twa­ro—the Asian and Pacific Re­gional Org­anization of the Inter­na­tional Tex­tile, Garment and Leath­er Work­ers’ Federation—in conjunction with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and coordinated by the Cambodian Institute of Development Study, found that some 85 percent of re­spondents are dissatisfied with wages.

Based on the research, the minimum monthly wage required to en­sure workers and their families ob­tain the minimum acceptable living standard is $87. The maximum garment factory workers require is $113 per month, according to the survey.

Nuon Veasna, national project coordinator for the International Lab­or Organization’s worker ed­u­ca­tion project, said there will be meet­ings in May where the survey fig­ures will be finalized.

“In a way this is the first real trade union research to determine a living wage,” he said. “The figures in the research are not final yet, so we are not releasing them.”

The survey, conducted from De­cember 2008 to January, claims workers need at least $72 a month just to cover their most basic needs. Re­spondents said they need to spend on average $1.90 a day on living expenses.

According to National Institute of Stat­istics figures, on average it costs $3 a day to live in Phnom Penh.

The survey concluded that the re­spondents “lack money for daily expenditure, lack money to send home and have little money to save for their future.”

Free Trade Union President Chea Mony said by phone Tues­day that he agreed with the survey results, but doubts it will do any good.Z

“I am struggling to get workers’ wages increased as much as I can but I do not believe the government would raise salaries for workers without strikes or demonstrations,” he said.


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