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May Day: Living Wage for All 

2013-05-01 - CLEC

Today 6,000 to 7,000 Cambodian workers took to the streets to demand a living wage and improved working conditions. Workers throughout various Cambodian sectors joined the May Day march in an amazing show of solidarity, sending a message to duty-bearers, employers and international businesses that development in this country will be inclusive.

There is no minimum wage in Cambodia, despite the Labor Law (1997) requiring one to be set in the private sector through sub-decree. More than 15 years after the law was passed, this has not been done. The exception is the garment industry which as of today ensures workers receive US$80 per month. Considering the ever-increasing costs of living and the needs of dependents this is nothing more than a poverty wage.

Based on average per capita expenditure and macro-economic data an ILO commissioned study in January, 2013 comprehensively concluded that the required minimum wage in Cambodia is US$164 per month. However, the lives of marginalized Cambodian workers are currently typified by poverty, malnutrition and exploitation - despite maintaining full-time employment. This cannot and will not continue.

Workers and their representatives marched to the National Assembly where they were greeted by opposition party members who reiterated their commitments to increase minimum wage for garment workers and civil servants to $150 an $250 per month, respectively.

The labor movement in Cambodia continues to grow and we will not sit idly by as the gap between rich and poor continues to increase. Cambodian workers deserve respect, basic human needs and human dignity.

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