In view of the ongoing nationwide strikes since December 25, 2013, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour has announced an additional US$ 5 hike in minimum wage for garment workers, taking the monthly minimum wage to US$ 100 from the earlier US$ 80 per month, including a US$ 5 health bonus.
The Government has also decided to implement the new wages structure from February 2014, instead of April 2014, according to a statement signed by Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng.
The decision to raise the minimum wage for 2014 by US$ 5 per month has come a day after the Government warned trade unions of legal consequences if they continued to strike.
However, the new decision has failed to pacify the six trade unions which are demanding the minimum wage for garment workers in the country to be raised to US$ 160 per month.
Soon after the last month’s announcement of US$ 15 pay rise for 2014, supporters of six trade unions—the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Free Trade Union (FTU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU)—stopped going to work.
Earlier in a press release, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said it would be happy to receive the invitation for GMAC members to resume operations when the six above-mentioned trade unions and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training guarantee the safety of workers who want to work, and also guarantee and safeguard all the property of GMAC members.
The garment body further said that the six trade unions would have to bear full responsibilities for the loss of wages, loss of jobs and the loss of investment in Cambodia.
The garment sector is the main foreign exchange earner for Cambodia, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s overall exports. It employs over 300,000 workers, with more than 90 percent of them being female.
From January to November 2013, Cambodia exported garments and footwear worth US$ 5.1 billion, showing a sharp 22 percent year-on-year jump, according to the Ministry of Commerce data.