Image 1 of 1
Sorn Tola (pink shirt), a 22-year-old garment worker from Prey Veng province, eats dinner in the evening with her two sisters and fiancé, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sept 8, 2011. Sorn Tola has been working at the Shen Zhou factory for two years. Every six months she receives a new short-term contract, but there is no increase in the fixed salary (US$61 per month). She worked at another factory for two years before getting a job at Shen Zhou. Sorn Tola works from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., with a 1-hour lunch break. On most days she also works a 2-hour overtime shift (for which she receives pay of time and a half), and finishes work at 6 p.m. “I sometimes feel really tired after work because I have to work harder to get more salary,” she said, explaining that there are incentives based on output. Her fixed salary is US$61 dollars per month, but last month she says she earned $270 because her sewing output was high. “I can earn more if I sew a lot of clothes. This system makes workers work harder to get more salary,” she said. Sorn Tola said that she doesn’t know where the clothes that she makes will be sent or sold. She lives with two of her sisters, her fiancé, and two other friends who are all working for nearby factories. The rent for the 20-meter square room is US$40 per month. Before the minimum wage was increased from US$56 to $61 in October 2010, the rent was only US$25. Most of the housing blocks that garment workers live in are owned by the factories, so to counter the wage increase, most factories simply raised the workers’ rent. Every month, Sorn Tola spends about $50 on her living expenses. “I don’t send money to anyone. I try to save all the leftover money every month, but I have no plan for that money yet,” she said. Every day Sorn Tola spends about 75 cents (US) to US$1 on food, usually fish, meat and vegetables. “The amount we spend depends on the types of food we eat. Some days if we have more delicious food, we spend more,” she said.