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August 17, 2022

Cambodia garment wage talks get underway

Talks have begun to discuss an increase in the minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia.

By Michelle Russell

This week, representatives of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) attended the second meeting of the second term National Council on Minimum Wage.

The discussions are focusing on the minimum wage setting for the textile, garment, footwear, travel goods and bag sector for 2023.

The government raised the minimum wage to US$194 per month earlier this year, from $192, raising concerns within the industry as Covid-19 delivered a turbulent year for the key outsourcing hub.

According to local reports, unions in the garment sector claim workers want a wage hike of between $20 and $50 next year, given the increasing cost of living.

GMAC said in a statement this week announcing the start of talks: “With the Royal Government of Cambodia’s high ability to manage Covid-19, Cambodia can maintain production stability, sustain economic growth and export. However, there is a decline in profitability in the sector and the future situation remains uncertain and unfavourable for Cambodia’s export for at least more than one year.”

Cambodia’s clothing and textile industry has rebounded since orders skidded to a halt in the first few months of 2021, when factories were stymied by a community Covid-19 outbreak. The country’s Coronavirus cases shot up from under 500 at the time to more than 50,000 by the end of the first half of the year.

However, some factories have had to spend additional money on Covid-19 prevention and response expenses, from masks and alcohol to rapid tests.

H.E. Ith Sam Heng, minister of labour and vocational training and chair of the National Council on Minimum Wage, welcomed all participants to the meeting on Monday and outlined the dates for further, more detailed discussions to take place on 24 and 31 August, and 7, 14, 22, and 23 September.

GMAC did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.

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