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Little Union Support as Government Announces Raise in Wages

Cambodian garment workers buy some cheap food for their lunch in front of the factory in downtown of Phnom Penh, file photo.

The government announced Thursday it is willing to raise the minimum wage for factory workers to $128 per month, but some unions say that is not enough.

Factories had said they cannot afford to raise the pay for workers, who in turn say they cannot keep up with Cambodia’s rising cost of living.

“The minimum wage of textile workers, garment and shoe production in 2015 is defined officially in the amount of 128 dollars per month,” the Ministry of Labor said in a statement Thursday.

Some unions had demanded up to $177 per month, in a sector that employs up to 700,000 Cambodians and is a major economic driver for the country.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said his workers would not accept the new wage, set to take effect next year.

“We still see a gap,” he said, adding that union leaders were calling for meetings to discuss whether to continue to demand even higher wages.

Rong Chhun said companies would have more money to pay workers if they were not paying government officials non-transparently.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic

Union, said his workers did not feel the wage increase was enough.

His union, which is in “more than 100 companies,” will meet over the weekend to discuss with nine other unions whether they will accept the wage, he said.