16 September 2010
We express our strong support for the thousands of garment, textile and footwear workers in Cambodia who have begun a strike after exhaustive attempts in the last several months to negotiate with the government and Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) for a living wage.
We join CCAWDU and NIFTU in their contention that the new minimum wage
of US$61 and $56 (for regular and probationary workers respectively) is insufficient, and should be revised to US$93, which is the level that would bring the minimum wage to be living wage, one which complies with Article 104 of the Cambodian Labour law. Article 104 states that the wage must ensure every worker a decent standard of living compatible with human dignity.
Furthermore, the minimum wage should be adjusted from time to time in accordance
with changes in economic conditions and the cost of living, the revised level should not be fixed for four years as currently decided by the Labour Advisory Committee.
Wages below the minimum needed for decent living introduces whole families to vulnerability to child labour, illegal labour, malnutrition and health problems.
Garment workers’ wages have not risen to keep pace with inflation, much less the workers’ basic needs.
We urge the government as well as the company owners who are profiting from workers to fulfill the minimum demands of the Cambodian workers:
1. To increase the minimum wage to $ 93 per month
2. To increase other benefits such as:
– $2 work seniority annual allowance every year
– 1 hour over time food allowance of R1000 for every hour of OT worked
(US$1 = approx. R4,000)
– $10 attendance bonus per month
3. Wage increases should be provided to every worker
4. Request to negotiate or renegotiate on this wage issue once every year based on economic situation and the indispensable need of the workers.
In the 8 July meeting of the Labour Advisory Committee, attempts to adequately discuss and reach a consensus between the GMAC and the trade unions had not been exhausted which was the direct reason for the strong frustration and actions of the workers in protest to the new minimum wage much lower than what they demanded.
We strongly demand the Cambodian government to act strictly in accordance with the Cambodian Constitution Article 37 and the Cambodian Labour Law to protect the right of the trade union to use strike and demonstration to exert the legal rights of its members for collective bargaining and in wage negotiation. It is the duty of the Cambodian government, as a signatory country to the ILO Convention C98 to ensure that the collective bargaining on the minimum wage is undertaken without threats and retaliation against the trade union and workers’ representatives.
We note that there have been calls throughout the whole Asian region exposing the inadequacy of many countries’ and regions’ minimum wages, and the need and strong demand of workers for a living wage – a wage that can assure a decent living for workers and their families. The failures of governments to respond have led to mass actions in
Bangladesh, in Hong Kong, in South Korea, in China and other countries. In many places including China, significant wage increases have been granted by employers, showing that increases are indeed feasible without causing company closures.
As a group of labour unions and organizations in Asia which support and promote workers’ rights and justice for all, we intend to continue monitoring the Cambodian situation and joining our partner organizations CLC and CCAWDU in their calls for the solidarity of workers throughout Asia.
On behalf of
ATNC Monitoring Network, including:
Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong
Committee for Asian Women, Thailand
Globalization Monitor, Hong Kong
Korea House of International Solidarity, South Korea
Labor Education Advocacy Development Response Services (LEADER), Philippines
Labour Action China, Hong Kong
National Coalition on the Protection of Workers’ Rights, Philippines
National Free Trade Union, Sri Lanka
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Malaysia
Solidarity of Cavite Workers, Philippines
Workers Assistance Center, Philippines
Yokohama Action Research, Japan