By Yun Samean
the cambodia daily
Four luxury hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap barred their employees from returning to work Tuesday, after employees agreed to end an eight-day strike pending an Arbitration Council hearing.
Representatives from the unions at Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Raffles Le Royal, Sunway Hotel and Hotel InterContinental said hotel officials told them not to return to work until after the April 21 hearing by the Arbitration Council, the body that mediates labor disputes.
Employees at the Hotel Cambodiana and Sofitel Angkor Hotel returned to work Tuesday.
Cambodia Tourism and Service Workers Federation President Ly Korm called the hotels’ refusal “illegal,” and said that workers should nonetheless remain outside the hotels’ gates until the Arbitration Council hearing, so that they cannot be accused of defying the council’s order to return to work.
“This is the hotels’ trick. They don’t want the workers to go back to work,” he said Tuesday.
Chhit Boravuth, a lawyer for the Raffles-owned Le Royal and Grand Hotel d’Angkor, said employees at those hotels had violated a Thursday ruling by
the Siem Reap court and a Fri-
day ruling by the Phnom Penh court to return to work within 48 hours.
According to the Cambodian Labor Law, the hotels can fire employees for violating that order, as long as they offer compensation, Chhit Boravuth said.
“The employees have seriously abused the law. They always rely on strikes to solve the problem,” he said. He did not know whether the hotels would fire the employees.
The dispute has centered on the collection of service charges, and what percentage of that fee should go to workers.
Phnom Penh Hotel Association President Tek Ket declined to comment on the hotels’ refusal to take workers back.
In an April 13 letter, Sunway Hotel general manager Manfred Haeger said the hotel would allow striking workers to take a “vacation” through Khmer New Year until April 21. The hotel will pay workers for that time if the Arbitration Council so orders, Haeger wrote.
Hotel InterContinental Union President Lim Choeun said Tuesday morning that he had received no answer from the hotel as to why workers were barred from work.
Employees at the Hotel Cambodiana returned to work without penalty, managers said Tuesday. “From the beginning, we never stopped anyone coming to work,” general manager Pierre Bernard said Tuesday.