400+ of Naga Casino Workers fired who were on Strike
PHNOM PENH, June 24 | Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:42am EDT
PHNOM PENH, June 24 (Reuters) - More than 400 Cambodian croupiers, drivers, cleaners and other workers have been sacked or suspended by the Hong Kong-listed owner of their casino after going on strike for higher pay and better working conditions, they said on Monday.
Strikes over pay and working conditions are on the rise in Cambodia, particularly in the garment sector, where low-cost labour has attracted many Western brands in recent years.
Hundreds of strikers demonstrated on Monday outside the NagaWorld hotel and casino complex, owned by Nagacorp Ltd .
One of them, Seng Lay Heng, 22, read out a text message she had received from management saying: "Your contract with NagaWorld is terminated with immediate effect."
"This is illegal. The company can't just fire us without a reason," she said, adding the workers had gone on strike legally.
The company did not respond to requests for comment in either Cambodia or Hong Kong.
Last week, riot police and security guards broke up a peaceful protest, mostly by women, and briefly detained 19 NagaWorld workers and union representatives, according to the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation.
About 1,000 workers have been on strike since June 13, demanding that Nagaworld increase their pay to up to $150 from $80 a month, or by 20 percent for those already earning more than $150.
According to a memo emailed to senior staff, 413 workers had had their contracts "terminated/suspended". It was not clear what was meant by "suspended".
The strikers "have been identified to have been involved in the illegal strike against the company", management said in the email seen by Reuters. (Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Alan Raybould
Court Order Ends NagaWorld Strike, Sends Staff Back to Work
By Kaing Menghun- June 27, 2013
Hundreds of employees of Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino and hotel returned to work Wednesday in response to a court order telling them to end their nearly two-week-long strike.
Staff demanding that the high-grossing company raise their minimum pay from $80 to $150 per month have been protesting at the gates of Phnom Penh’s only licensed hotel-casino since June 13, at times clashing with casino security.
Union representatives were told last week by management that 400 staff had been fired or suspended, but on Wednesday, all employees returned to work, according to Seng Thida, a representative of workers.
“All of us, 1,800 of us, including the ones who were suspended, went back to work this morning,” Ms. Thida said.
An order from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, obtained Wednesday, said that the court had deemed the strike illegal from the beginning and had originally issued a warrant ordering staff back to work on June 13.
The second court order dated Tuesday, said the court “orders the employees and union at NagaWorld who have been striking illegally to stop striking immediately.
“In this case, if you do not stop, the prosecutor will forcefully implement [this order] in accordance with the law.”
Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation vice president Sok Narith said that the second order—which he said was issued at the behest of NagaWorld—added weight to the court’s message to workers.
“But this time, even though we do not want to follow it, we have to,” he said.
NagaWorld employee Chhum Sophy, 32, who has worked there since 2008, said that despite no concessions being given to employees, she had returned to work anyway.
“I think it is time to give each other another chance,” said Ms. Sophy, who makes beds at the NagaWorld hotel and is paid $90 per month.
“I hope that this time, the company really thinks about us [the employees].”