Police release 8 NagaWorld union leaders

NagaWorld employees were arrested during strike action against the company.
NagaWorld employees were arrested during strike action against the company.

Authorities in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh have released eight union leaders who were arrested in December for organising the NagaWorld strike.

Cambodia.- A union member has told Radio Free Asia that police in Phnom Penh have released eight union leaders representing striking workers. The eight union leaders were imprisoned for 74 days and charged with inciting social unrest after NagaWorld workers went on strike in December.

The release comes after around 200 workers who had been arrested for breaching Covid-19 health protocols were released. Thousands of NagaWorld employees went on strike in December demanding higher wages and the reinstatement of employees and union leaders who had lost their jobs.

Ry Sovandy, one of those arrested, said: “Our stance is that the union has to be reinstated and the workers who want to work should be allowed to return.

“Our position is purely based on the willingness of the workers. We will not accept any condition that leads to a dissolution of the union or only allows one party, the NagaWorld company, to win in this dispute.”

Government-mediated negotiations with the casino operator had so far failed to bear fruit. Cambodian authorities have said the strike is illegal and even claimed it was backed by foreign donors in an attempt to overthrow the government. Activists say such allegations were fabricated to end the strike.

Three other union leaders remain in prison for obstructing the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The newly released leaders have asked the court to drop all charges against them and release the remaining three so that negotiations with NagaWorld can continue.

On Monday, 162 people were arrested and police took them to an isolation centre on the outskirts of the city for quarantine. 

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