Owners of Cambodian garment factories are calling on unions to accept a pay cut for nightshift work in an attempt to save jobs ahead of next year's lifting of trade quotas.

Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the present nightshift pay - at 200 per cent of normal wages - "is not competitive."

He added: "If the unions are serious about helping the industry, they should compromise with us on the nightshift rate."

Cambodia joined the World Trade Organisation this year and has seen its garment industry become the country's biggest export earner.

There are about 220 factories in Cambodia employing some 265,000 workers, who earn a minimum $45 a month.