NagaWorld Union Meets With Labor Ministry, Mediation Planned Next Week

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Seven NagaWorld union representatives hold posters in front of the Labor Ministry gate after submitting a petition contesting the company’s mass layoffs on June 8, 2021. (Tran Techseng/VOD)

NagaWorld union representatives met with the Labor Ministry on Monday as the workers accuse the Phnom Penh casino of trying to destroy the union through mass layoffs targeting top labor leaders and those active in support.

Eight union representatives met with ministry officials to explain their petition, signed by more than 2,000 employees, calling on the company to drop its layoffs plan, said union leader Chhim Sithar.

“The ministry told us: next week,” Sithar said of a mediated meeting with the company. “We will wait.”

NagaCorp human resources officer Kong Soklim did not respond to questions.

The Labor Ministry meeting came as unions and civil society groups issued a joint statement saying the company’s actions “aimed at attacking the union” and amounted to “attempts at dissolving the union.”

The signatories, which included union federations for tourism, transport workers, builders, food and service workers and garment factories among 73 total groups, said they were “extremely disappointed with attempts to dissolve trade union leadership and the plans to systematically and unacceptably lay off workers during the COVID-19 crisis.”

The company announced plans in April to lay off 1,329 of more than 8,000 total workers, citing business challenges due to Covid-19.

“The entire local union leadership — President, Vice President and Secretary — as well as the majority of local union activists in all sections of the company have been notified of their dismissal,” the joint statement, issued Friday, says.

It notes NagaCorp’s $102 million in profits in 2020, and the development of a new Naga 3 facility that would require 4,000 additional workers.

It says the company made a similar attempt to quash the union in 2009. “These acts evince an intention to discriminate against the union and to violate the fundamental freedom of association guaranteed” by the Constitution, Labor Law, and International Labor Organization conventions, it says.

“The reasons outlined above suggest that COVID-19 is not the real reason for management’s plan to lay off workers at NagaWorld,” the statement says.

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