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Garment industry minimum wage increased

Published:Thursday | November 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Cambodian garment workers sit on a motor cart heading home after their day's work in a factory in Phnom Penh, yesterday.-AP

PHNOM PENH (AP):Cambodia agreed yesterday to raise the minimum wage in its important clothing industry by 28 percent to $128 a month, falling short of labour unions' $140 proposal.

The Labour Advisory Committee, representing employers, workers and the government, originally agreed on a $123 minimum wage. A Labour Ministry statement said it was increased to $128 after instructions were received from long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen to do so. The new wage level takes effect at the beginning of next year.

Two years ago, a militant union campaign to double the then-minimum wage of $80 in the textile, garment and footwear sector resulted in clashes with police and a consequent crackdown on public protests. A $100 level was set for 2014, and the unions scaled back their demand for the negotiations over the 2015 level. Employers had proposed the minimum wage be set at $110 for next year.

The clothing industry is Cambodia's biggest export earner, employing about 500,000 people in more than 500 garment and shoe factories. In 2013, the Southeast Asian country shipped more than $5 billion worth of products to the United States and Europe.

The Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union has not yet accepted the 2015 wage level, said union president Ath Thorn, who took part in the negotiations.

The Labour Ministry's statement said that, when other benefits were calculated, the workers would be making an average of $147 to $156 monthly next year.