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Parliament Approves Controversial Wage Cut

The National Assembly Friday approved an amendment to the labor law that will cut wages of nighttime factory workers, despite a boycott of the vote by opposition lawmakers and previous threats of strike from labor leaders.

The amendment, which proponents say is necessary to keep Cambodia competitive in a global market, will reduce wages for night-shift workers by 70 percent, Labor Minister Vong Soth said. They had been earning twice the daytime wages.

The cut could add as many as 200,000 jobs to Cambodia's top economic earner, Vong Soth said.

Members of the Sam Rainsy Party boycotted the vote.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the amendments catered to industrial bosses, especially garment factory owners, who for years have complained of high wages on the overnight shift, which runs from 10 pm to 5 am.

"We see the loss of additional benefits, and this cannot sustain livelihoods," he said.

President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Chea Mony, called the amendment a "knife that kills" workers.

"We see clearly that if the Assembly adopts this law, there will be strikes at the factories," he said.