Leading international fashion brands such as H & M have indicated that they are willing to pay higher rates for garments made in Cambodia if the government decides to increase minimum wages for garment workers. Eight retailers gave assurance in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and to the Chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents garment factory owners in the country.
Meanwhile agitated Cambodian garment factory workers launched a new campaign this week seeking an increase of their monthly minimum wage to $177 from $100 effective 2015. Hundreds of workers carried out demonstrations in their factories during lunch break to highlight their demand ahead of a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC), an organization of employers, the government, and unions, on September 26 during which officials will discuss a possible minimum wage increase in January.
A previous demand for a wage hike to $160, had been rejected by employers, who had raised salaries to $100 from $80 this year. “As responsible business, our purchasing practices will enable the payment of a fair living wage and increased wages will be reflected in our FOB prices, taking also into account productivity and efficiency gains and the development of the skills of workers, carried out in cooperation with unions at workplace level," H &M and other retailers Inditex, C & A, N Brown, Tchibo, Next Retail, Primark and New Look said in the letter.
The retailers also said that they expect the government and GMAC to establish processes "to ensure all workers receive the new agreed minimum wage by monitoring wage implementation and policing suppliers that fail to meet the new minimum wage level. This will ensure an equal level playing field and create a competitive advantage for the factories that comply with the new minimum wage."