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Labor Leaders Closer To Agreements on Workers’ Salaries

Cambodian garment workers shout slogans behind barbed wire set up by police near the Council of Ministers building during a rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. The workers are demanding a raise in their monthly salary from US $160 to $80, file photo.
Labor officials, factory managers and at least some union leaders say they have agreed to five joint protocols they believe will help increase workers’ wages and relieve pressure from ongoing labor strikes.

The three sides met with the help of the International Labor Organization over two days this week, and though it remains unclear how much salaries will be increased, participants said Friday they had made significant advances in improving the situation.

Workers say they need a minimum wage of $160 per month to keep up with the rising cost of living in Cambodia, but factories have said they cannot pay that much, in an industry that employs an estimated 600,000 people in garment and shoe manufacturing.

The Ministry of Labor issued a statement saying all sides have agreed in principle to raise salaries yearly, according to an anonymous vote and a formula.

“Following these points, there will be no more disputes, demonstrations or strikes to pressure us when we start discussions,” Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng said.

Some union leaders said afterward they were not convinced.

Pav Sina, head of the Collective Union of Workers’ Movement, said such meetings were delay tactics. “I am not convinced that these five points will lead to a standard in wages for workers,” he said.