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PHNOM PENH – Garment sector unions in Cambodia have welcomed the rise on the monthly minimum wage from US$182 to US$190 but continued calls for sectoral collective bargaining as the most realistic way to achieve a living wage. Unions claim sectoral bargaining has the potential to address union demands by building sector specific wages and conditions on top of the minimum wage and linking these to brand prices. 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.

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

The affiliates welcomed the ACT brands’ purchasing practice commitments and 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 – among them H&M, Inditex, Primark, Next and Fast Retailing – discussed how to achieve better wages in the Cambodian garment sector.

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.”  

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.”

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