Cambodiana, Union Talk Into the Night

Talks aimed at resolving a labor dispute at Hotel Cambodiana extended into the night Wednes­day, as mediation efforts over the collection of service charges at the country’s top hotels conclude later this week.

Management and unions swapped proposals on the divisive service charge issue, according to Cambodiana management and union federation leader Ly Korm. Neither side would say whether progress was made.

A professional foreign mediator came to Phnom Penh on Friday to help resolve the standoff over the collection and disbursal of service charges on customers’ bills, but only three of seven luxury hotels, where the issue erupted into strikes last month, have joined the talks.

Of those hotels, Hotel Cam­bo­diana has participated most actively. Hotel Inter­Contin­ental de­livered an offer to its workers on Saturday and the two sides have not met since, said Edwin Bucher, the hotel’s general manager. Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel is formally part of the talks but has not participated.

The mediator, Michael Gay, is expected to return to Australia late this week, leaving the Arbi­tration Council to rule on the cases. Medi­ation is the final course before a court hearing, which could result in the firing of workers who went on strike. Raffles-owned Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh and Grand Hotel D’Angkor in Siem Reap fired some 300 workers who participated in the strike. Those ho­tels, along with Sunway Hotel and Hotel InterContinental, have court cases pending to determine if the strikes are legal.

A separate dispute is simmering at MiCasa Hotel, where four workers claimed they were sacked in March for union activity.

Though MiCasa avoided strikes over the service charge, former employee Sok Thol charged on Wednesday that management fired him and three others after he was elected president of a new union that challenged a hotel policy of docking wages to collect four years’ back pay of income tax.

A manager at MiCasa declined to talk about that charge or give his name to a reporter at the hotel on Wednesday.



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