Cambodiana Layoffs Disputed

More than 60 workers at the Hotel Cambodiana recently fell victim to the economic effects of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which continues to strangle the travel and hotel industries.

Ly Korm, president of the em­ployees union at the hotel, said that Cambodiana’s management has not offered appropriate severance pay for the 64 senior workers it has dismissed since May 1.

“We have worked since 1993. The hotel should pay at least six months’ compensation,” he said.  Management, he added, likely laid off the employees, most of whom worked at the hotel for at least eight years and some for as long as 13 years, because their salaries were more costly than those paid to newer employees.

The Hotel Cambodiana’s resident manager, Pierre Bernard, said Sunday that the workers were not fired; their contracts simply were not renewed.

“We absolutely did not [fire workers]. When you go from

60 percent to 20 percent occupancy, it’s the survival of the company” that is at stake, he said, adding that many workers’ contracts ended May 31.

Ly Korm has issued complaints to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs asking it to help ensure that workers receive severance pay commensurate with their seniority. This request, he said, has been denied by the hotel’s managers.

Bernard said workers would be paid what they are owed.

An Nan, Cambodian Labor Organization legal manager, said dismissed employees are due 15 days’ worth of pay for every year they have worked, according to the Cambodian Labor Law. This payment plan caps at six months, earning employees who have worked more than 12 years no more than half a year’s compensatory pay, he said.

Dismissals due to economic constraints should be executed according to seniority, he said, with the newest staff relieved before more senior employees. But the lines blur when dismissals come in the form of non- renewed contracts, he said.

“If we can note that the contract is for a reason [other than] not having the skills or making mistakes, then we can debate,” he said.

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