Garment workers have clashed with police in recent years and some unions representing disgruntled employees have joined opposition supporters protesting Hun Sen’s government.
Cambodia’s garment industry employs an estimated 700,000 people, mostly women, exporting about $6 billion of products in 2016.
The Ministry of Labor, Vocational and Training announced Thursday that the minimum wage will be raised by 11.11 percent to $170 a month, with $165 to be paid by the employers and $5 by the government. However, it is a good start for this year to increase the minimum wage to this level plus other benefits offered to workers which are paid by employers.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has been battered by a government crackdown that is clearing out rivals of strongman premier Hun Sen ahead of a 2018 election that could have tested his 32-year grip on power.
The workers’ ability to mobilize in the streets has always been a concern for the government, with workers often playing a major role in political protests, not just labor campaigns. The government released a video, recorded four years ago. Many senior CNRP leaders have since fled the country, fearing arrest.
Hun Sen’s government was almost toppled in the last national election in 2013, and support is growing for the opposition, especially among younger Cambodians. Radio stations that broadcast other than innocuous or pro-government programming had their licenses revoked.
Government representatives, factories and unions backed the latest increase.
No CNRP spokesmen could not be reached for comment.
Wages in Cambodia remain low by global standards, largely because of pressure to compete with other low-cost producers such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The minimum wage in Cambodia, an important low cost clothing manufacturing centre, is reviewed annually based on seven criteria set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO), taking account of the basic living needs of families, the inflation rate (currently about 2.3%), the general cost of living, productivity, economic competitiveness, the labour market situation, and the profitability of the sectors covered by the minimum wage rate.