Workers in Phnom Penh protest against layoffs at casino resort
For 42 days, some 2,000 workers have been protesting against layoffs by hotel and gaming resort operator NagaWorld. According to the company, investments in a new resort and loss of business due to the pandemic justify the decision. Protesters slam the company for distorting the facts. Workers at home and abroad express solidarity with nine jailed union leaders.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) – After 42 days, some 2,000 workers are still protesting outside NagaWorld, one of Phnom Penh’s foremost hotel and gaming complexes, in protest against the mass layoffs by the resort.
This decision, according to management, is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge losses incurred in first six months of 2021 compared to the previous three years, combined with investments in building NagaWorld 3.
For workers, NagaWorld is twisting the facts, and using the current situation to its own advantage. In their view, the company's layoffs were not justified, and violated resort workers’ rights.
However, a court ruled the strike illegal and ordered the arrest of nine union leaders, including President Chhim Sithar.
Workers reacted immediate, holding a press conference this morning in which they denied the claims made by NagaWorld.
They noted that 80 per cent of the 1,329 laid off employees were union members or union officials, many of them activists who fought to improve working conditions.
In addition, the company terminated the employment of the most experienced and better paid employees, and kept the newest and younger recruits.
For Chim Rotha, who spoke on behalf of workers, “we want to make it clear to the public that NagaWorld is not trying to find a solution, but trying to distort the truth in order to avoid responsibility”.
What is more, Rotha complained that workers were constantly monitored and threatened by undercover police officers.
Meanwhile, the negotiations have stalled. The Cambodian Ministry of Labour and NagaWorld are asking workers to accept the (tiny) compensation offered and look for another job.
The laid off employees said that they would return to the negotiating table only if the eight jailed union leaders are released.
Support for the workers is gaining momentum in the country and abroad.
Union leaders at Coca Cola, Anchor Beer, and Caltex (Chevron) petrol stations have come out in support of striking workers.
In Malaysia, Labour Law Reform Coalition co-chair Gopal Kishanam said unionists sent a letter in support of NagaWorld workers to the Cambodian embassy, but officials refused to accept it.