Cambodia raises 2021's minimum wage for garment industry despite COVID-19 impact

September 25, 2020

Cambodia on Thursday set a new monthly minimum wage for the kingdom's garment and footwear industry at 192 U.S. dollars for 2021, up 1.05 percent from the current 190 dollars, although the sector has been badly hit by the impact of COVID-19, Labor Minister Ith Samheng announced.

The minister said that Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen decided to increase two dollars to the minimum wage for next year and it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

"Taking into account the wellbeing of the workers, the prime minister decided to raise two dollars to the 2021's minimum wage for the garment and footwear workers although the sector has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19," Samheng told reporters.

The garment and footwear industry is Cambodia's biggest export sector, employing about 750,000 people in approximately 1,100 factories and branches, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, currently, some 120 factories still suspended their operations, affecting around 50,000 workers, he said.

The Southeast Asian country saw a 5.4 percent drop in the garment and footwear export to 3.78 billion U.S. dollars during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, according to government data.

Speaking on behalf of the garment and footwear manufacturers, Nang Sothy, co-chair of the Government-Private Working Group on Industrial Relations, said the slight hike in the 2021's minimum wage was acceptable.

"Wage increase during the COVID-19 pandemic is a difficulty for the employers, but to maintain the fraternal spirit between employers and employees, it is acceptable," he told reporters.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, said he was not satisfied with the new minimum wage, but due to the COVID-19, it was difficult for the confederation to demand a higher wage for the workers.