CAMBODIA: Talks move forward on garment worker pay
By Leonie Barrie | 23 January 2013
Workers in Cambodia's garment and footwear factories could be in line for a pay rise following a meeting between key stakeholders this week - but will have to wait until next month before more details are revealed.
The meeting on Monday (21 January) involved the Minister of Social Affairs and the Minister of Labor, as well as the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) and representatives from local trade unions.
According to local news reports, a follow-up meeting has been scheduled for the end of February to decide the minimum pay rise, with the International Labor Organization (ILO) acting as a coordinator.
The minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia is currently US$66 a month, making it one of the lowest in Asia. Massive inflation has also meant Cambodian garment workers have seen a real wage loss of over 14% during the last 12 years.
Trade unions want to see it doubled to at least US$121 per month. But campaigners argue that a living wage in Cambodia - as calculated by the Asia Floor Wage alliance - should be US$283 a month.
Campaigners have been ramping up pressure on retailers and importers sourcing apparel from Cambodia, with demonstrations outside branches of some Western apparel specialists to tackle what they describe as the "poverty wages" of the country's garment workers.
There have also been numerous strikes and protests by workers in Cambodia.
Cambodia's garment exports rose 9.9% to $3.44bn in the first nine months of last year, up from $ 3.13bn a year ago. The garment sector remains as the backbone of the Kingdom's economy as its largest foreign-currency earner.