Cambodian workers; meager earnings far away from a living wage

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Another story from “Garment workers diaries” shows us the sad situation of garment workers in Cambodia, through the experiences of Sokhaeng, a 27 year-old woman who works in the city of Phonm Penh:

“The data collected from July to November 2016 show that Sokhaeng worked, on average, 51 hours per week. She earned about 3,300 riels per hour and her employer gave her a 4,000-riels meal allowance on the days she worked. While these averages suggest that Sokhaeng typically worked a legal number of hours and received the legal minimum wage, they mask the volatility that Sokhaeng experienced in her schedule and pay. For instance, she worked at least 60 hours in six weeks during July and August. By September, the number of hours she worked fell, staying comparatively low through October before briefly spiking in late November. There were periods when she worked substantially less or not at all“.

Therefore, she earned about $0.8 per hour, what is an average of $41 per week and around $170 per month. This is a little above of the minimum wage, but far away from a living wage.

“For Sokhaeng, making ends meet was a continual struggle because of her low income, its volatility, and the demands on her and her husband’s resources from a number of different directions. In addition to paying rent and buying food and household items for her and Pisen, Sokhaeng regularly had to send money back home to support the couple’s child and aging and ailing parents. She also chose to attend beauty school with the hope of starting her own business one day, a decision that demands an investment of several million riels. To make ends meet from week to week, she needed to borrow large sums from her brother, buy and sell lotion as a side business, and, at times, cut back on major expenses like rent and food”.

“Sokhaeng and Pisen used all their money management skills to scrape by in the face of multiple challenges—poor work conditions, low wages, the erosion of the value of those wages through inflation and unfair practices by landlords, and demands from other family members who were themselves scraping by. Addressing those challenges requires the commitment of a number of different stakeholders, in particular the multi-national brands buying what Sokhaeng makes, the factories who employ her, and the government. Sokhaeng ‘s story should be a powerful reminder to them and others of what is at stake“.

See the original news here