Cambodia: Not all factories oppose minimum wage

Not all garment factories oppose an increase to the minimum wage as parties prepare to enter the first round of negotiations on Sept 14.

Unions are arguing that wages be increased to $214.20 per month while employers remain steadfast that salaries be reduced because of the pandemic.

“My company is more than happy to raise the wage as our brand values are focused on human rights and paying a living wage,” Outland Denim Account Development Manager Brenda Murray told Khmer Times.

“The skill of making a garment is very undervalued in our industry. Just because of the costs incurred due to Covid disruptions, it does not mean that factory workers should struggle. They are the ones who have had no or little support during lockdowns, where the Western world has [enjoyed] income subsidies,” Murray continued.

Jeans made by Australia-based Outland Denim became a “must have” item after Meghan Markle was spotted donning a pair during a trip to Australia.

The firm was founded to benefit victims of sex trafficking and has 127 employees in the capital and Kandal province.

Murray said her firm helped to continue paying salaries for workers during lockdowns and supported them by arranging for food parcels for them.

Cambodian Trade Unions Coalitions President Far Saly said companies specialising in sportswear, handbags and footwear – particularly premium brands – are more likely to increase workers’ wages regardless of the decisions.

“I am more concerned about average factories not being able to increase wages because some have had to cut costs during the pandemic… I understand GMAC [Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia] must protect its members but $10 is not a large increase. They should at least considers the unions’ request.”