Cambodia garment workers campaign for higher wages
More than 1,000 workers took part in demonstrations at the weekend
Unions are warning of further protests by Cambodian garment workers after more than 1,000 people took part in demonstrations at the weekend to demand better pay following a delay in announcing a new minimum wage.
The Labour Advisory Committee (LAC), composed of government, factory and union representatives, was due to reveal the new wage for 2015 on 10 October. Instead, wage negotiations have now been postponed to an undecided date in November.
The rally on Sunday (12 October) saw protestors wearing bright pink T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan 'We want a decent wage' gather at Freedom Park before marching peacefully marched to submit petitions to the National Assembly, US and EU embassies.
It was the largest garment sector demonstration in the Cambodian capital since wage protestors were shot dead by police in January this year.
Unions have accused the LAC of delaying proceedings in an attempt to wear down their demands for a significant increase in the minimum wage, which currently stands at US$100 a month. Cambodian garment workers and unions want the wage to rise to $177 a month, but manufacturers want a minimal increase to $115.
This is the second time in as many months that wage talks have been postponed. An earlier meeting in September "failed to arrive at any consensus" between industry unions and factory owners, according to Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
Eight major fashion brands, including one of Cambodia's biggest customers, H&M, have indicated their support for talks to raise wages for the country's garment workers - in line with efforts to improve supplier productivity.
But unions are now warning of a series of demonstrations "until an acceptable minimum wage is set by the LAC."
"Deferring a decision on the minimum wage has only strengthened workers' resolve for better pay," says Jyrki Raina, general secretary of the IndustriAll union. "As the LAC dithers, unions will simply continue to mobilise to make their voices heard. We urge the LAC to put an end to this uncertainty and agree to a significant pay increase for garment workers as soon as possible."
Companies: H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB
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