14 September, 2020In a blow against working families already fighting the pandemic, the Cambodian government has announced that 2021’s minimum wage is to be set at US$192. Unions had demanded an increase of US$12.35 from today’s minimum wage of US$190.
The government in Cambodia failed to meet the demands of the unions as they set the minimum wage for 2021 at US$192. Unions argued for an increase of US$12.35 from the existing minimum wage of US $190, based inflation rate, productivity and profitability.
However, the employer associations wanted the minimum wage to be reduced to US$172.62, and a government study showed that the new minimum wage should be US$186.
The tripartite meeting, with representatives from unions, employer associations and the government, failed to reach a consensus at the National Council for Minimum Wage on 9-10 September in Phnom Penh.
Subsequently, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, announced the new rate, effective as of 1 January 2021.
Dismayed by the decision, the president of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU) Kong Athit, says:
“Our members are dissatisfied with the insignificant increase of US$2. During these hard times, workers have little bargaining power to challenge the decision.”
Agreeing with Athit, the vice president of Federation of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) Mann Senghak, adds:
“We are unhappy, but are left with no choice as both the employers’ and the government’s calculations indicate a negative growth rate. Moreover the governments of Vietnam and Bangladesh have decided to freeze minimum wages in 2021.“
IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary Annie Adviento, says:
“The employers’ proposal to cut wages during the pandemic when the inflation rate on food has skyrocketed from 2.1 per cent in 2019 to 4.3 per cent in 2020 is appalling.
“Workers and their families are suffering; we will continue to support our Cambodian affiliates to ensure that workers’ right to a decent living standard is respected.”