Cambodian workers demand protection against low wages

The Cambodian National Trade Unions Coalition(NTUC) has approached the Ministry of Labour with recommendations on how best to address the ongoing plight of the workers during the pandemic.

Ath Thorn, NTUC council chamber leader stated that the letter listed nine points of action which it hopes authorities can take to protect garment workers, among workers in other disciplines who continue to work despite the outbreak.

One of the suggestions stated that the minimum wages must be deemed higher for those working in the garment, footwear, construction and service sectors. The Cambodian wage generally changes once every two year however, due to the pandemic it is yet to be addressed this year.

The garment manufacturers in Cambodia have been criticised after calling for the country’s minimum wage of USD 190 per month for garment workers to be suspended for the duration of the pandemic.

Secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia (GMAC), Ken Loo stated that the move would help ensure that the sector remained competitive during the pandemic.

Clean Clothes Campaign a non-profit organisation stated that reduction in the minimum wage would hit workers who were already struggling to meet ends.

In the end of July the Cambodian Ministry conducted a survey to assess a feasible wage change for the workers to make a living.

As various stakeholders are on the wait, other elements of the supply chain have come into play, with the NTUC calling for Article 144 regarding the reduction of night shift benefits and Article 162 on the cancellation of weekly day offs be suspended.

It has stressed a review to be conducted on the social security scheme to ensure it serves its purpose, particularly in these situations. With workers highlighting the crippling effects that loan repayments are having on their livelihoods, it’s hoped a six-month extension period can be enforced to provide some relief as they try to navigate back to normal.