After over ten days of unrest, the garment industry in Cambodia is limping back to normalcy has workers have started reporting back to work.
It all started when thousands of garment workers went on a strike on December 24, 2013, following the Government’s announcement of raising the minimum wage by US$ 15 for 2014, as against the workers’ demand of raising the minimum wage to US$ 160 per month from the existing US$ 80 per month.
The sudden strike forced several garment factories to either shut down or decrease the quantity of production.
Subsequently, to appease the striking workers, led by six trade unions—C.Cawdu, Niftuc, CUMW, FTUWKC, CCU and CATU—Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour 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.
In addition, the Government also decided to implement the new wages structure from February 2014, instead of April 2014 as decided earlier.
However, the six agitating trade unions continued the strike, and the Government retaliated by using police force to crackdown on protestors, following which the strike has subsided and workers have started returning to work, according to Cambodian media.
The end of strike, one of the largest in Cambodia’s recent history, would put a halt to financial losses being sustained by garment manufacturers due to missed shipments.
In Cambodia, the garment industry is a major foreign earner with exports worth US$ 5.1billion shipped in the first 11 months of 2013, registering an increase of 22 percent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that the recent labour unrest has cost US$ 200 million to the country’s garment industry and foreign buyers were likely to reduce their orders by about 30 percent in 2014.