Phnom Penh casino accused of union busting with mass layoffs

Cambodian trade union leaders are fighting back after more than 1,300 casino workers were laid off this year. Danielle Keeton-Olsen and Yon Sineat report from Phnom Penh.

When managers at Phnom Penh’s exclusively-operating NagaWorld casino announced in April that about 15 percent of its 8,000-strong workforce would be laid off due to pandemic-related economic losses, it soon became apparent who the main targets of the layoffs would be.

Among the 1,329 workers being retrenched were all the complex’s trade union leaders and organizers. The President, Vice President, and Secretary of the union all received layoff notices, as did 60 union organisers and recruiters, and a number of long-serving staff.

The union, which has long battled with NagaWorld management over pay and working conditions at the massive casino complex, did not take the news lying down. In early June, the union filed a petition with Cambodia’s Labour Ministry, signed by more than 2,000 union members and supporters, seeking government intervention. In addition to protesting the layoffs, the petition highlighted the company’s failure to pay seniority benefits and its miscalculation of layoff packages.

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