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Monday, June 14, 2010

CAMBODIA: Strike threats loom while pay talks stall

By Leonie Barrie

The threat of a strike by garment workers in Cambodia appears to have abated while talks on a rise in the minimum wage get underway between manufacturers, unions and local government officials.

Union representatives said in late May that they would launch a strike this month after becoming frustrated at a lack of progress on the pay talks.

They had agreed at a meeting of the Labour Advisory Committee in February to form a working group to conduct pay negotiations, with a view to implementing changes by the end of this year - but it seems a specific date to begin the discussion has still not been set.

Indeed, Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), confirmed to just-style the industry group is still "waiting for the government to organise such meetings and negotiations."

Unions are keen to see the monthly minimum wage for Cambodian garment workers lifted from its current level of US$50 to between $70 and $93 per month to cover basic living costs such as food, housing and travel expenses.

If agreed, this would be the first wage increase in around two years.

"GMAC received a letter from [the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC)] in late May," Ken Loo said "informing us of the intention to conduct this strike as well as indicating their request for a revision of the minimum wage.

"Our government responded on 5 June that there are procedures that have been put in place and committees that have been formed to look into this issue, and have requested that the union in question submit their request to the respective committee."

He added: "GMAC's position is that we would follow the instructions of the government and wait for them to organise such meetings and negotiations."

The International Labour Organization (ILO) also notes that while "a basic framework for these [new minimum wage] negotiations has been agreed, important details of the process remain outstanding."

While it waits for government action, GMAC is holding a meeting on the minimum wage and draft trade union law on Thursday (17 June) to discuss the issues with factory owner, directors and managers.

Despite being hit hard by the global downturn, Cambodia's garment sector has seen exports rebound this year, with exports up 7.2% in the first quarter.

Crucially there has been a strong recovery in exports to all of its major markets, with shipments to the US up by 4.1% and to the European Union up by 7.3%.
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Moya Dayen wins US$13.4m contract for water project in Cambodia

By Jonathan Peeris

SINGAPORE : Catalist-listed environmental engineering firm Moya Dayen has clinched a US$$13.4 million contract from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority in Cambodia.

The contract is for the supply, delivery and construction of an intake tower around 25 metres high located in the Mekong River.

It also covers the construction of a raw water pumping station with a capacity 135 million litres per day and a raw water transmission main connecting the station to the water treatment plant site, as well as other ancillary works.

The contract is scheduled to start this month and is expected to take 30 months to complete.

This is the second contract that Moya Dayen has clinched with the Cambodian authority since 2006.

The contract is not expected to have a material impact on the firm's earnings for the financial year ending in September. - CNA /ls
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