Cambodian raises minimum wages

Cambodia has raised the minimum wage for its garment workers by 20%, following a series of strikes over pay and conditions, but union leaders said on Friday it was not enough.

The monthly minimum wage for the hundreds of thousands of workers who make clothes for companies such as Levi Strauss of the US and Sweden's H&M will rise from $61 to $75 (2,200 baht), the government said.

Workers will also be given an additional $5 a month for healthcare, according to a government announcement on state-run television late Thursday. The increase will take effect from May 1.

Cambodian workers hold portraits of the country's royal family during a hunger strike in front of a factory in Phnom Penh on Feb 28.

Cambodia's garment sector, a key source of export earnings, has been hit by a series of strikes and high-profile media scandals over wages and working conditions in factories producing for top western brands.

Recent negotiations between factory owners and union leaders over pay and conditions had ended with no agreement earlier this week, prompting the government to intervene.

Trade union leaders said the 20% increase was insufficient and demanded $100 a month.

"The increase is too small. It will not improve workers' livelihoods as inflation is high," Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, told AFP.

The trade unionist said he would organise a mass protest by workers if their demands are not met.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said employers would follow the government order.

The textile industry is a key source of foreign income for Cambodia and employs about 650,000 people, mostly women.

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency