Union activists seek government intervention to reinstate NagaWorld employees

Protests against NagaWorld started in December last year.
Protests against NagaWorld started in December last year.

Union activists have sent a proposal to the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.

Cambodia.- More than 400 members of the Cambodian Federation of Trade Unions, trade federations, local trade unions and labour-related associations gathered in front of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to submit two proposals yesterday (Sunday). One of them concerns the ongoing labour dispute between casino operator NagaWorld and a group of former employees.

The union activists have asked the ministry to intervene on behalf of 150 former NagaWorld employees who are union members and leaders. They argue that their colleagues were fired unfairly and want them to be reinstated with seniority pay and other compensation in accordance with labour laws. They also want criminal charges against 14 union activists related to protests to be dropped.

NagaWorld employees went on strike on December 18 2021 in protest against NagaCorp’s layoffs and pay cuts that aimed to improve cost efficiency due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Government-mediated negotiations with the casino operator have failed to bear fruit.

Since then, there have been incidents between protesters and police, with complaints of violence and aggression against union members. In August it was reported that about 100 NagaWorld workers had written to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen and to the National Assembly to request their intervention. However, the Ministry of Labor has mediated 13 times already and has been unsuccessful.

The other proposal submitted yesterday asks the ministry to intervene to ensure the resolution of the cases of 31 union leaders and activists who say they have been unfairly dismissed for union activities.

Ministry of labour spokesman Heng Sour said the cases had been resolved by professional arbitrators at the departmental level in accordance with labour dispute resolution procedures.

Chhim Sithor, president of the Cambodian Workers’ Rights Support Union of NagaWorld, told Phnom Penh Post their rally at the ministry aimed to seek justice.

Sithor stated: “There is no solution, only violence against the strikers. So we came together in front of the Ministry of Labour to be a driving force for the enforcement of the law against companies in Cambodia, especially the labour law.

“We do not want to protest, we do not want to stand out in the streets, but we have no choice. We just want labour rights that ensure that Cambodian workers are not unfairly fired.”

NagaCorp recently shared its financial results for the first half of the year. It posted gross gaming revenue of US$52.7m, up 83.6 per cent when compared to H1 in 2021. It reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of US$130.1m and a net profit of US$52.7m compared with a US$77.2m loss for the first half of 2021. NagaCorp’s revenue was US$243m, up 86.3 per cent from US$130.4m. 

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