A senior Industry Ministry official said Sunday that current wages for factory workers are reasonable and that opposition leader Sam Rainsy was just “making problems” with calls for a 50 percent raise in the minimum wage.
“This issue is already stipulated in the [labor] law,” said Industry Undersecretary of State Hul Lim. “The demonstration led by Sam Rainsy is just making problems.”
The president of the Sam Rainsy Party led several hundred garment factory workers Friday in a protest near the US Embassy.
He told the protesters that he will spearhead a drive next month to raise their salaries to $60 a month.
The country’s labor law currently stipulates a minimum of $40, but many workers complain the law is not enforced.
Demonstrators called for the US government to reconsider Cambodia’s special trade privileges. The US should revoke the Most Favored Nation trade status and the General System of Preferences privileges if employers continue to ignore the labor law, they demanded.
Hul Lim said he would ask his ministry to close any factory found breaking the law. Workers should contact the ministry if they have problems, he said, rather than participate in protests led by politicians.
He declined to comment on how increased factory wages might affect current and future foreign investors.
Spokesmen for the Garment Manufacturers Association could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Meanwhile, with the onset of the hot season, the government has instructed the country’s garment factories to make sure buildings are properly ventilated.
Guidelines issued in March by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Veterans Affairs, require buildings to have at least 10 cubic meters of work space for each employee, and doors and windows must account for at least one quarter of the total surface of the building. The doors and windows must be kept open.
The letter did not state whether there are penalties for failing to comply with the guidelines. Ministry officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.