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Cambodian unions demand sectoral bargaining to achieve living wages

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23 September, 2019IndustriALL Global Union garment unions in Cambodia have welcomed a raise in the monthly minimum wage from US$182 to US$190 but reiterated calls for sectoral collective bargaining as a means to reach a living wage.

IndustriALL trade union affiliates came together in Phnom Penh on 16 and 17 September as annual wage negotiations between unions, the government and employers continued through the week.

On 20 September, a majority of the minimum wage council voted for a monthly minimum wage of US$187. The government gave an additional US$3 making the minimum wage US$190 from 1 January 2020.

Pav Sina, the president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said:

“Trade unions welcome the result and hope that the ministry will further consider our 13 demands,  which include meal allowances, safer transportation and extension of the minimum wage to other sectors in the country.”  

IndustriALL and its affiliates held two days of meetings and discussed strategies for achieving a living wage through linking brands’ purchasing practices with a sectoral collective bargaining agreement.

The affiliates welcomed the ACT brands’ purchasing practice commitments as they agreed that poor purchasing practices lead to excessive overtime, underpaid wages and short-term contracts.

In a roundtable discussion “Towards a living wage” IndustriALL affiliates together with major brands sourcing from Cambodia (H&M, Inditex, Primark, Next and Fastretailing) discussed how to achieve better wages in the Cambodian garment sector.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s director for textile and garment, said:

“Sectoral bargaining has the potential to address all union demands by building sector specific wages and conditions on top of the minimum wage and linking these to brand prices, something that the minimum wage cannot do.”

Athit Kong, President of CCAWU and IndustriALL textile and garment sector co-chair, stated:

“As Cambodian trade unions, we will continue our fight for better wages and acknowledge the support by the 20 global brands and retailers who have made a public commitment to reform their purchasing practices and actively support sectorial collective bargaining. But for a living wage to become a reality for thousands of Cambodian garment workers – brands such as Adidas, Timberland, North Face need to get off the sidelines and make the same commitment to work with IndustriALL and national trade unions."

Annie Adviento, IndustriALL Global Southeast Asia regional secretary added “We support our affiliates in their yearly triparite discussions on the minimum wage and we will continue to support them in their struggle to reach an industry-wide collective agreement and reform the wages and working conditions in the garment sector.”