Labor & Garment

Meeting to Determine Final Decision on Minimum Wages Set

The National Minimum Wage Council will hold a final meeting to set the minimum pay for garment workers on September 21, with authorities pushing for $198 compared with unions’ call for $213
Factory workers leave work in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Factory workers leave work in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

As the debate over minimum salaries is yet to be resolved, the National Minimum Wage Council will hold its fifth meeting on September 21 to make a final decision on minimum wages.

On Tuesday, the National Minimum Wage Council hosted its fourth meeting to discuss the 2023 minimum wage for textiles, clothing, footwear, travel items, and bags. It was attended by important parties, including a government official, an employer representative, and a labor representative.

During the Minimum Wage Meeting, employer representatives decided to take $197 as their internal unanimous decision, government officials agreed to $198, and workers' representatives raised three figures: $206 with eight votes, $210 with three votes, and $213 with six votes.

However, the final decision has not yet been agreed. The National Minimum Wage Council will hold a final decision meeting on September 21 to determine the minimum wage for textiles, apparel, footwear, travel products, and bags in 2023.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said the government's proposed figure remains low at $198, while the union is seeking $213, which marks a significant difference. Therefore, they might still make further demands, he added.

He added that he expects a greater rise than in prior years.

“Of course, this is a negotiation for the employees. If the workers are willing to accept, that is OK. However, if workers are unwilling to accept, we shall try our best,” he said. “We will do anything we can.”

Meanwhile, Khoun Sokha, a garment worker of 21 years, said if the minimum wage does not rise, workers may continue to demand raises since goods have increased in cost. However, she would accept this minimum wage if commodity prices fell.

“I want $215, which will not make me rich but will allow me to live comfortably. I'm waiting for the result,” she said. “If it remains at $197, we may continue to demand [more] because the minimum wage is too low.”

Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said that the next meeting on September 21 will be determined by a vote without consensus.

The minimum wage in 2022 was $194 per month, up from $192 in 2021.