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Cambodia garment sector wage talks to start in July
Jun '15
Cambodia’s labour ministry has announced that formal negotiations to set a new minimum wage for the country’s all-important garment sector - now at $128 a month - will begin in July, reviving the same schedule for talks it used with unions and employers for the first time last year, the country’s newspapers have reported.

The ministry adopted the new multi-step process in mid-2014, following a string of particularly disruptive strikes over garment sector wages the preceding December and January that briefly brought the industry to a halt and ended with the fatal shooting of at least five workers by military police in Phnom Penh.

It hoped the more inclusive approach would convince the independent unions behind those strikes to stay off the streets and stick to negotiations.

The unions reluctantly accepted the 28-percent raise that eventually came out of the process, though some of them attributed the drop in protests to a fear of more shootings.

In a statement, the labour ministry said process would begin next month with the government, factories and unions each settling on a preferred new wage among themselves. They will follow that with bilateral negotiations in August and tripartite talks in September. The tripartite labor advisory committee will then meet in October to settle on a raise to recommend to the labour ministry - by consensus if possible, and a secret ballot otherwise.

Whatever new wage the ministry finally decides on will take effect in January.

During last year’s negotiations, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) pushed for a raise of 10 per cent.

Though the raise the labour ministry settled on was much higher, GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said the employers were satisfied with the process.

“We have no issues with the process,” he said. “The timetable is fine.”

He said it was too early to say how much of a raise the factories might propose this year, as the formal talks have not yet begun and the factories were still coping with the last raise.

GMAC warned last year that a large raise would take a toll on the country’s garment exports, which make up roughly a third of Cambodia’s gross domestic product.

Yet exports have been robust thus far, up 11 per cent year-on-year over the first quarter. (SH)

Fibre2fashion News Desk – India

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