Seven Unions Plan Campaign for $177 Wage as Revision Looms

With the government set to decide on a new minimum wage next month, a group of seven unions say they are set to launch a campaign to rally support around their demand for a $77 increase to the current floor wage of $100.

Beginning on September 17, the unions will distribute T-shirts and stickers bearing “$177,” hold speeches and discussions during lunch breaks and petition global brands for support, union leaders said.

More than 100,000 leaflets will be disseminated to workers at up to 300 factories while about 2,000 “$177” T-shirts will be donned by union activists, who will also spend part of their lunch break holding banners, said Ken Chheng Leng, acting president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia.

Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said the unions would petition brands including Adidas, Gap and Puma, who source from Cambodia’s factories.

“We need to send a message to the buyers, [the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia] and the government to make them understand the workers’ living conditions,” Ms. Sophorn said.

The campaign, which will run until the end of the Pchum Ben holiday in early October, comes as wage discussions between the unions, factories and government reach their final stages.

The last time the minimum wage was revised in late December, the government’s failure to meet the unions’ demand of a $160 minimum wage set off a series of strikes and demonstrations that temporarily crippled the industry. They were effectively suppressed when military police shot dead at least five protesting workers outside the Canadia Industrial Park in Pur Senchey district.

Last week, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court summonsed at least five of the union leaders for questioning over their alleged roles in inciting violence during those protests.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the hearings, scheduled for next week, would not impede the campaign for a $177 minimum wage.

“Although the court has summonsed us to appear, we will continue to stick with our plan,” he said.

dara@cambodiadaily.com

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