Min­i­mum wage for 2019 set to be de­cided

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE - Kong Meta

GAR­MENT and tex­tile fac­tory work­ers are set for an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage for 2019. The Labour Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee will de­cide on Fri­day how much the fig­ure will rise by af­ter a tri­lat­eral meet­ing on Thurs­day failed to come to an agree­ment.

With no de­ci­sion reached by the tri­par­tite tech­ni­cal team in­volv­ing the three rel­e­vant par­ties – the gov­ern­ment, em­ploy­ers and unions – the mat­ter will be re­ferred to a Labour Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee meet­ing on Fri­day for a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

Work­ers and em­ploy­ers are said to have tried to find a com­pro­mise, with labour rep­re­sen­ta­tives com­ing down slightly to a fig­ure of $182 a month and em­ploy­ers in­creas- ing t heir proposal to $177.

The min­i­mum wage is cur­rently $170 a month.

E mp l o y e r s h a v e a l s o re­quested the gov­ern­ment to lower t he cost of elect r icit y from $ 0.167 per kW/h to $ 0.12 per kW/h.

Min­istry of Labour and Vo­ca­tional Training spokesman Heng Sour said that although there had been some ad­just­ments, there was still a no­tice- able dif­fer­ence be­tween the fig­ures pro­posed by the two par­ties.

He said: “So even though there has been some ad­just­ment, we still can see that there is a size­able gap be­tween what was pro­posed by the two par­ties. And [on Thurs­day] the em­ploy­ers of­fered only $177.”

The Labour Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, he said, would be the fi­nal ar­biter on the fig­ures that the tri­lat­eral tech­ni­cal team had come to on Thurs­day.

“The Labour Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee will con­vene a meet­ing to de­cide on the re­sult [on Fri­day]. So we ex­pect to [then] have the of­fi­cial fig­ure for the min­i­mum wage for 2019,” he said.

“I think that the rel­e­vant par­ties, such as em­ploy­ees and

unions are more ma­ture now. And this mech­a­nism has been in place for five years. We see the ne­go­ti­a­tions go­ing smoothly,” Heng Sour said.

Be­fore re­quest­ing $182 a month, the group of unions, con­sist­ing of 16 mem­bers, had voted in­ter­nally to come to a fig­ure for the in­crease, with some mem­bers propos­ing $189 and some $182.

Coali­tion of Cam­bo­dian Ap­parel Work­ers’ Demo­cratic Unions pres­i­dent, Ath Thon, said dur­ing the union ne­go­ti­a­tions, $189 a month was de­manded, but be­cause some unions “held po­lit­i­cal ten­den­cies and were not wholly in­de­pen­dent”, they called for a lower fig­ure.

“Some Cam­bo­dian unions are in­de­pen­dent, while some are not be­cause they have po­lit­i­cal ten­den­cies and are in­flu­enced by the em­ploy­ers. So they don’t have one voice for the work­ers,” Thon said.

With dif­fi­cul­ties in com­ing to an agree­ment on the fig­ure to be put for­ward – ei­ther $182 or $189 a month – the de­ci­sion was put to a vote. The $182 a month fig­ure re­ceived 10 votes while $189 got two votes. There were three ab­sten­tions.

Gar­ment Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in Cam­bo­dia deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kaing Monika said it was trou­bling for in­vestors, in gen­eral, when­ever there were min­i­mum wage ne­go­ti­a­tions as em­ploy­ers were al­ways wor­ried about po­ten­tially high fig­ures de­manded by unions.

“We have pro­posed $177 as the min­i­mum wage for 2019. We have also asked the gov­ern­ment to lower elec­tric­ity costs by four cents. What­ever the de­ci­sion is [on Fri­day], the Labour Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee will de­cide the fig­ure.

“I think $177 is cor­rect. We have high ex­pec­ta­tions that the fi­nal fig­ure will be $177 be­cause it is the most prac­ti­cal,” Monika said

Thon said: “Over the past three or four years, the em­ploy­ers have in­creased the work­ers’ work­load [so] there is lit­tle sat­is­fac­tion even with [an in­crease to $182 or $189 a month].

“It is very lit­tle be­cause our work­ers face dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. Ex­penses are high and there are a lot of cases of fainting and they have a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“So when their wages are low, they face dif­fi­cul­ties.”


Of­fi­cials at­tend a meet­ing at the Min­istry of Labour to dis­cuss 2017 min­i­mum wage.

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