The Government of Cambodia is making efforts at minimum wage reform, and it has set up a committee to study the minimum wage at garment manufacturing units as a way of continually working to increase it, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng while unveiling the Ministry’s 2013 annual report, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
However, the opposition party and some trade unions are derailing the Government’s efforts by resorting to strikes and encouraging violence, the Minister added.
Minister Sam Heng said the Government would seek assistance from the International Labour Organisation for further improvement in conditions.
Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour said protests of all types were a waste of time, and all of them should come to the negotiating table, as protests yield no benefit.
The annual report says the number of strikes in the Cambodian garment increased from 61 in 2012 to 90 in 2013, while the number of registered unions increased by over 300 to 2,891 during the same period.
In late December 2013, Cambodian garment industry was forced to remain shut for about 10 days, following six trade bodies—C.Cawdu, Niftuc, CUMW, FTUWKC, CCU and CATU—demanding raising the minimum wage of workers to $160 per month from the then existing $80 per month, including a $5 health bonus.
The strike ended after the Government issued a temporary ban on all forms of demonstrations and garment units reopened on January 6 this year.
Subsequently, a new wage structure, offering $100 monthly minimum wage, including a $5 health bonus, is being implemented from this month at garment factories in Cambodia.
The garment sector is the main foreign exchange earner for Cambodia, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s overall exports. It employs over 300,000 workers, with more than 90 percent of them being female.
The exports of apparel earned US$ 5.52 billion for Cambodia in 2013, registering a rise of sharp 20 percent over $4.61 billion exports made in 2012, according to the data from the Ministry of Commerce.