Tourism, Food-Worker Unions Back Plan to Strike for NagaWorld Workers

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Police officers block NagaWorld protestors at Sothearos Boulevard on June 27, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

Major tourism and food workers’ unions said they supported a proposal to strike in August to show solidarity with Phnom Penh casino NagaWorld’s fired workers, who have been protesting since December.

The NagaWorld workers allege union-busting in a prolonged dispute that has seen Labor Ministry-mediated negotiations stall. The workers want the reinstatement of about 200 fired employees, which include union representatives and leaders.

This month, Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions president Yang Sophorn has suggested that her garment factory-focused labor group and its members would strike in August to support the NagaWorld workers’ cause.

On Tuesday, Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation president Ou Tepphalin said her union also planned to join the strike as a last resort to support the workers in the casino dispute.

Unions had already shown their support by issuing statements, filing petitions and observing the NagaWorld workers’ near-daily protests. But there had been no progress toward ending the dispute, Tepphalin said.

“We’ve sent a petition to the National Assembly, but still don’t see anything. Almost everything has been done. We don’t know how to solve it. So it is only as a last resort that we will unite with each other to join in a strike,” Tepphalin said.

Cambodia Tourism Workers’ Union Federation president Touch Kosal also backed the call, saying his group would also join in a strike. He had previously observed the casino protests, and as tourism workers were in a similar sector he believed action was necessary.

“In the upcoming days, it can happen. But it’s not 100% yet. We will join the strike after we agree together to demand a solution at Naga,” he said, adding that there were as yet no exact dates.

It was important that unions supported demands to protect rights in the workplace, he said.

Some other unions, however, said they were unaware of plans or were uncertain on whether they would join.

Building and Wood Workers Trade Union secretary Yan Thy said he did not know about the plan to strike. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Kong Athit said his union “will do everything we can to support the Naga strike,” but he did not have clear information about joining a strike and would need to check the legality of it.

Cambodian Labor Confederation president Ath Thorn said he had observed the Naga protests and supported the workers, but he would remain only an observer.

“The Naga strike is different. We don’t join them. We only observe the situation,” Thorn said.

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