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Cambodia: Wage Council Agrees to Raise for Garment Workers

Cambodian garment workers are expected to see their next wage increase on Jan. 1, 2015, and the country’s wage council has agreed to regularly raise salaries at the start of every year.

According to the Phnom Penh Post, the agreement was signed during a recent Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) meeting with ministry representatives, trade unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). Although a set formula for calculating the new minimum wages has not yet been decided, the LAC said it will meet about the next year’s wage hike during the third quarter of the year prior.

Prior to this agreement, wages in Cambodia were determined arbitrarily and the results were often met with protests and general discontent among garment workers.

Late last year, the LAC raised the monthly minimum wage from $80 to $95, and as workers’ unions had been seeking to see the rate doubled to $160, unrest ensued.

Thousands of displeased workers took to the streets, angered over what they felt was a miserly increase and the walkout caused delays in factory production and halted transportation in the country. In an effort to placate the demonstrators, the Cambodian government offered to raise the wages to $100 per month, effective in February.

The LAC will discuss the new wage increase over the course of three meetings during the fourth quarter, and the agreed upon rate will take effect each Jan. 1.

“We had a good result today, because we now have clear dates for minimum wage implementation,” Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, told the Phnom Penh Post. “Before, we did not have an exact time frame for discussing the minimum wage.”