Wage talks ongoing, Sep 28 decisive

Garment factory workers in Takeo province on September 19. STPM
Garment factory workers in Takeo province on September 19. STPM

Minimum wage discussions for factory workers at large enterprises in manufacturing textiles, garments, footwear, and bags and travel products in 2024 remain ongoing, with the most recent meeting taking place on September 18.

Government representatives have suggested a new minimum wage of $202, while employers have come forward with a figure of $201.50 per month. Union representatives have submitted two potential figures, $204 and $213.

A National Council on Minimum Wage press release said that the union and employer representatives held mature discussions, with the government continuing to facilitate and consider the social and economic criteria of both sides.

“Representatives of the workers have taken two separate positions: $204, with 12 out of 17 votes, and $213 with the remaining five union votes,” it said.

“The employers’ representatives submitted their final position of $201.5, with the government suggesting a rate of $202, based on technical specifications,” it added.

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour told reporters after the meeting that the government had used an official formula to calculate the suggested wage.

“We followed the mechanism that is in place – as well as what is stated in the law. Today’s meeting gave each party a chance to put their final suggestion forward. As we have not yet reached a consensus, we will hold our final meeting on September 28,” he said.

He added that each party will have the chance to reaffirm their position at the next meeting, and if there are still differences of opinion, a vote will be taken.

Nang Sothy, a representative of the employers, said the factory owners have requested that the government invest more in logistics and transport infrastructure, so as to create a more favourable environment for the 2025 wage negotiations.

“During the negotiations, we invited the government to consider this. We hope we will obtain specific results during the government-private sector forum which is scheduled for November 13,” he explained.

“The union’s position is their own, but the amount they are asking is more than the official mechanisms suggest is appropriate. This is why there is just $0.5 difference between the government and employers’ figures. On September 28, there may be more flexibility, but we do not know yet,” he added.

Kim Chansamnang, a union representative, said that despite the difference between the two different numbers suggested by the unions, both had been determined according to the same principles. The submitted figures would ensure the Kingdom remained competitive, while also working for the workers.

“We want our workers to earn higher wages and also have work to do, especially during these period of a global economic downturn. We know that some factories remain suspended. We have not requested figures that would affect competition, as some other countries have frozen their wages,” he explained.

Chansamnang added that the unions will hold a campaign to explain the figures to factory workers.