NagaWorld Union Says No Progress in Negotiations as Casino Sidesteps Reinstatement Demand

3 min read
LRSU president Chhim Sithar, center, speaks to union members outside the Ministry of Labor after negotiations ended on Monday. (VOD)

NagaWorld union leaders said the casino company was reluctant to discuss their demand for reinstatement of around 200 laid-off workers on Monday, as protestors continued to get detained over the weekend. 

The union, casino corporation and Labor Ministry met for the second round of negotiations on Monday, after the first meeting yielded no results and was more of a “unity” building meeting, according to the ministry.

Union president Chhim Sithar addressed the media after the Monday meeting, with around 60 union colleagues listening to the updates. Sithar said that during the meeting NagaWorld would skirt around the issue of reinstatement and instead address other points of contention between the two parties. The casino company has refused to reverse its mass layoff instead asking workers to accept compensation packages, which have been rejected by some workers.

“Even to consider allowing workers to return to work again, the company wouldn’t address this suggestion so there was no way to find a decision,” Sithar said. 

At the first meeting, Sithar had recommended that the casino company offer laid-off workers jobs if active employees were looking to quit the company. She didn’t explain how this would work. 

She also said that NagaWorld mentioned plans to layoff another 600 workers during Monday’s negotiation, though she did not go into detail, saying it was “new information” to her. 

Sithar added that the ministry said Wednesday would be the last negotiation meeting, and if a resolution was not reached, the parties could approach the courts to adjudicate the matter. 

“We cannot see a good result. I see [the ministry] has been pushing but this pushing is to make NagaWorld company win,” she said, referring to the two days of negotiations.

Sithar and 10 of her colleagues were released from prison last week after they signed letters promising to return to the negotiating table if they were given bail. They said they would ask other workers to stop the strike action to facilitate the negotiations, but workers have so far defied that call.

Labor Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour asked a VOD reporter to send questions via a messaging application but then did not reply to the queries.

On Sunday, 94 workers were detained again from outside the NagaWorld casino and carted off in six buses. The buses then stopped at the new Freedom Park in Russei Keo district where workers were allowed to alight.

Sok Tha Vuth, a 33-year-old worker, said she didn’t understand why the authorities put them in buses, drove them around the city and finally asked them to disembark at Freedom Park.

However, on Friday, workers were taken to the same spot but made to stay in the bus till late evening. Photos from Friday night show some workers seated in the buses, while others were hanging out of windows holding union posters and shouting at passersby.

They were released around 7 p.m. Friday night but workers said it was too late to organize transportation home and instead spent the night in the buses. Photos from workers show them sleeping on the seats and floors of the buses. They returned home early Saturday morning.

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