PHNOM PENH – The Garment Manufacturers in Cambodia (GMAC) on Tuesday proposed to the Labor Minister that the new minimum wage should be raised according to inflation in the country, citing concerns of competition throughout the region.
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general of GMAC – which represents the country’s exporting apparel and footwear factories – said that his association had put forth $144.20 as the amount of the monthly minimum wage for the latest round of negotiations, a 3 percent increase from the current $140 a month that workers receive.
“We already sent it to the minister this morning,” Kaing said. “Our position is that we can only offer a rate equal to inflation, which is estimated at 3 percent.”
He added that if other legally mandated benefits were tacked on, like the transportation/housing benefit and a bonus for employees who show up to work everyday, this would bring the minimum wage up to $161.20.
GMAC’s amount is much lower than the unions’, which proposed $179.60 to the Ministry of Labor on Friday as the new minimum wage, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
“We have done research on the social and economic situation and we [also look at] the situation of the family,” Ath said, adding that the unions have done research on the monthly cost of living. “For the cost of the living, we found it to be $171, and inflation is 3 percent.”
Kaing rejected this amount outright, saying it was “economically not possible.”
“Please, they should explain how this is possible for Cambodia to have a higher minimum wage than Vietnam, and about 2.2 times Bangladesh and Myanmar?”
Cambodia’s $6.2 billion apparel industry employs more than 700,000 workers, and it goes through minimum wage negotiations each year. Union, factory and government representatives will meet on Friday to begin talks.