Early calls for a boycott of Raffles-owned luxury hotels in Cambodia have met a muted response locally but touched off small demonstrations abroad.
In London, international union members on June 8 handed out leaflets in front of the Raffles Howard Hotel, denouncing the Singapore-based hotel chain for firing some 300 workers from Phnom Penh’s Hotel Le Royal and its sister hotel, Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap, according to the Web site of IUF, an international union.
An Australian union is planning a similar campaign on Friday in front of a Raffles-managed hotel in Sydney, according to a posting from that country’s Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, which claims about 130,000 members.
Gradually, support for the fired workers in Cambodia will grow, said Alonzo Suson, director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity in Phnom Penh, an arm of the US-based AFL-CIO union federation.
“It’s a moral obligation when you have a corporation like Raffles not following the law of the land,” Suson said Tuesday.
His group is hoping to mobilize international unions and organize a boycott here to pressure the Raffles chain to allow the fired workers to return to their jobs.
Le Royal illegally dismissed 97 employees and forged a bogus agreement with an illegally formed workers’ representative group following a strike in April, according to the independent Arbitration Council.
A similar case involving some 200 workers fired from Grand Hotel d’Angkor is currently under the Council’s consideration.
Raffles management in Singapore has rejected the Council’s Le Royal ruling, which is nonbinding.
It maintains that workers refused to return to work after striking illegally, and that the newly formed workers’ groups at the two hotels are legitimate.
On Tuesday, Raffles’ country manager Stephan Gnaegi declined immediate comment on the proposed boycott’s effects.
An informal survey of embassies Tuesday suggested the boycott calls have met a sluggish response from Phnom Penh’s international community.
Only a handful of Washington-based groups—such as ACILS, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute—are publicly participating in the boycott.
Other organizations and embassies contacted Tuesday refused to comment on whether they were severing ties to Raffles or said they had no knowledge of a boycott.
Representatives at the embassies of Japan, Indonesia, India, Germany and Australia all said they had not considered a boycott.
The British and US Embassies and the UN Development Programme declined direct comment on the boycott.
The government, which frequently participates in events held at Le Royal, has not indicated it might boycott.
Council of Ministers spokesman Khieu Thavika hung up on a reporter seeking comment Tuesday.