….and how does it compare to the rest of Asia and the world?

The other day a few hundred Cambodian garment workers collapsed at the Nike factory.  It was reported in the press but didn’t raise too much of a fuss.  The Nike executives (obviously very concerned!) flew in to see things right.  They of course played things down, as did, surprisingly, the spokesperson for Better Factories Cambodia.  (Perhaps maybe not surprisingly, when garment workers create 80% of Cambodia’s exports, so they think they need the jobs!?)  So I started checking it out.  Here are some interesting points:


*  With 6000 workers at the Nike factory, 100 fainted on Wednesday 11/4, then 300 fainted on Friday 13/4

*  Apparently the suggested cause was not heat, exhaustion, overwork, malnutrition, but……..‘mass psychogenic illness.’

*  The salary for these garment workers is $66 per month, including a $5 health allowance.

NIKE sweat shop - Cambodia








No wonder they are fainting.  These workers are slaving away in a hot factory all day while trying to support themselves (and probably others!) on a measly $2-$3 a day.








I googled the minimum wage in Cambodia, versus the rest of the world!  The figures are very revealing and help explain why you can live so cheaply in Cambodia and similar countries.


List of Asian Minimum Wages (per year!)

(from lowest to highest)

Burma (Myanmar)   $401

Cambodia  $792

Vietnam  $1002

Indonesia  $1027

Laos  $1057

Nepal  $1889

Phillipines  $2053

Thailand  $2293

Malaysia  $4735

South Korea  $9988

Japan  $11 254

(China and India do not provide figures but based on our experiences living in China for 6 months, and travelling through India, there are many, many Chinese and Indians working for very low salaries, even no salaries.)

Staggering, isn’t it!?  This helps to explain why you see a lot of expensive cars in these Asian countries!  The rich get rich by making slaves of the poor!  The number of Lexus vehicles in Cambodia alone is staggering!  There is also the aid money, but that’s another story!


So how do these numbers compare with the western countries?

What are the top 10 minimum wages in the world?

Australia, with its small population and rich mineral wealth, is now at the top of the tree!  The USA and Switzerland surprisingly do not quite make the list!



Top 10 Minimum Wages in the World

Australia  $30 643

Denmark  $23 573

Netherlands  $19 335

Ireland  $18 965

United Kingdom  $18 830

Belgium  $18 813

France  $17 701

New Zealand  $17 701

Canada  $16 710

San Marino  $15 707

(A few countries, eg Germany and Singapore, do not have legislated minimum salaries.)

So, based on the Australia v Cambodia numbers…..

*  $17: Air-conditioned coach from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, return (20 hour trip?)  An hour’s work for an Aussie, a whole week’s work for a Cambodian garment worker.

*  $2 tuk-tuk ride across town: 8 minutes work for an Aussie, a day’s work for a Cambodian garment worker.

*  $8 one hour oil massage:  half an hour’s work for an Aussie, 2 and a half days work for a Cambodian garment worker.

And finally………

* $200 pair of Nike shoes:  2 days work for an Aussie (outrageous!!) or 3 months work for a Cambodian garment worker who probably churns out hundreds of them!!!


1.  Don’t ever complain about your salary again!

2. Spare a thought for people who get paid less than you!  (often happy, caring, unselfish people)

3. Don’t buy Nike!?