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Cambodia to hold talks on minimum wages for garment workers

Workers in the Cambodian garment sector will have new minimum wages from January 2017. Wage discussions would be carried out by a tripartite working group consisting of representatives of trade unions, the Ministry of Labor, and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). GMAC represents about 600 factories that export garments and shoes.

All parties coming to the negotiating table have to prepare themselves by conducting surveys on social and economic criteria as well as the poverty line. The aim is to reach an agreement on the new minimum wage by October this year. In recent years, the minimum wage in the Cambodian garment and footwear sector has increased significantly from $66 per month in 2012 to $140 per month at present. The garment and footwear industry is the largest foreign exchange earner for Cambodia. In 2015, the sector exported goods valued at seven billion dollars, making up about 80 per cent of the Southeast Asian nation's total export earnings.

There are around 1,000 factories producing garments and footwear in Cambodia, which together employ nearly 7,50,000 people. The ruling party is caught between satisfying Cambodia’s electorate of 10 million, of which garment sector workers are a significant part, and keeping investors happy.