NagaCorp Sets Deadline for Striking Workers

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The park in front of Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld hotel and casino complex, decorated for Chinese New Year, on March 1, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)
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Striking NagaWorld casino workers are “welcome” to return to their jobs without repercussions until Wednesday — after which they will be terminated for serious misconduct, NagaCorp said in a letter to protesters.

“The employees who have not returned to work are hereby given a final opportunity to resume their services,” chief human resources officer Hein Dames said in a version of the letter shared on social media. Those who don’t “will be committing serious misconduct,” he said.

Current and terminated workers from the Phnom Penh monopoly casino have been protesting since December over mass layoffs that they say targeted union leaders and members and amounted to union busting. Eleven top unionists are now in jail over the demonstrations, which have been largely shut down by health authorities since last month. The Covid-19 Law, enacted last year, has been used to arrest three of the unionists under charges punishable by up to three years in jail.

Dames’ letter said 247 fired workers had also yet to accept their termination, and NagaCorp would end its compensation offer to them after Wednesday.

Striking worker Tim Satya said the letter did not scare her, and she would not be going back to work. She would stand by the other protesters until the jailed unionists were released and terminated workers negotiated a solution.

“They called us to return to work without a union there. We will face difficulties because the rules will depend only on their lips. When the rules depend on their lips, we will face difficulties,” Satya said.

“When we had a union we felt safe,” she said. “When we don’t have a union, we work very hard inside there and we don’t know who is responsible.”

“Returning to work without a union would mean we spent two months outside meaninglessly, so, no. We need to continue,” she said.

Terminated workers Rithy Rathna and Mam Sovathin said the latest letter changed nothing for them. NagaCorp had previously issued a “last call” to workers by phone or audio message in January.

“They don’t have any solutions for us, only threats against all activities,” Rathna said, reaffirming her commitment to continuing the labor action.

Sovathin said she also viewed the letter as a threat, but it was nothing new.

“We cannot end it. We will continue our way,” she said. “We will wait until we have enough power to go out there again.”

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