Cambodia will raise its minimum wage for textile and footwear industry to US$153 per month commencing January 2017.
The increased minimum wage for the garment sector is from $140 to $153 a month – a figure far short of unions’ demands for $171, according to the Phonom Penh Post. However, according to the Cambodian Labor Ministry, other benefits that workers have been receiving must be kept the same.
The textile and footwear industries are crucial to Cambodia as they generate $6 billion annually for the economy. The industry has created 600,000 jobs that sustain rural families and this figure continues to grow.
Sustaining the textiles sector is a tricky balancing act for Cambodia. Higher wages could appease workers but make the country uncompetitive, the unions commented to the newspaper. For instance, the new Cambodian wage figure is more than double the $64 minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh, the world’s second biggest exporter of garments after China.
The Cambodia Ministry of Economy and Finance and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that the country’s economy should grow about 7% in 2016. The growth was 6.9% in 2015. Even though the worst drought in 50 years had affected agriculture this year economic growth was driven by other sectors, helping Cambodia avoid a slowdown.