PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) – Next year’s basic minimum wage has been increased by 4.4 per cent to USD190 a month from USD170 per month last year after the final round of negotiations ended in a vote last week, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced.
A ministry press release said allowances, including USD7 for transportation, USD10 for accommodation, KHR2,000 riel (USD0.50) for meals and a seniority bonus of USD2 to USD11 would remain unchanged – bringing the average salary for workers to USD207 to USD218 per month.
Probationary workers will receive a temporary minimum wage of USD185 per month until they reach seniority – up from USD165 per month last year.
Some unions lauded the increase, while others said the raise was not substantial enough to improve the livelihoods of workers who struggle with the rising cost of rent, electricity and household goods.
The government had proposed a minimum wage of USD187 per month for workers since the discussions began, while unions and employers walked into the final round of negotiations with figures of USD195 and USD186, The Post reported last Thursday.
The parties were unable to come to reach a compromise come to reach a compromise at the meeting, which merited a vote, the ministry said.
A total of 43 people out of 51 voted for workers to earn USD187, while eight people supported the USD195 a month wage.
The government’s figure did not receive any support.
Prime Minister Hun Sen decided to increase the wages by USD3 when the final figure was brought to him for approval. International Labour Organisation National Coordinator Tun Sophorn told The Post last week that workers should receive a four per cent increase – bringing the proposed minimum wage to USD189 per month, based on its technical calculations.
Cambodian Union Federation President Chuon Momthol applauded the minimum wage increase but said the government needed to address critical issues concerning workers, like unsafe transportation and the rising cost of rent and utilities.
Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said it would review any requests submitted to it.
The new wages affect, among others, more than 80,000 workers in the Kingdom’s garment, footwear and textile sectors that already face an uncertain future thanks to the possibility of losing the European Union’s Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement.
The sectors are Cambodia’s largest source of employment, generating more than USD10 billion last year, said the National Bank of Cambodia.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and the European Chamber of Commerce had lobbied for the Kingdom to reduce the rate of increase for the minimum wage in an effort to mitigate the potential fallout of the EBA.
Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions president Yang Sophorn told The Post that Cambodian workers fared worse than counterparts in neighbouring countries who enjoyed similar wages and a lower cost of living.
“I am not satisfied with this wage increase because we know that [employers] are capable of offering far more while our workers have lost six paid public holidays,” she said last Sunday.