Hundreds of employees of Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino and hotel returned to work Wednesday in response to a court order telling them to end their nearly two-week-long strike.
Staff demanding that the high-grossing company raise their minimum pay from $80 to $150 per month have been protesting at the gates of Phnom Penh’s only licensed hotel-casino since June 13, at times clashing with casino security.
Union representatives were told last week by management that 400 staff had been fired or suspended, but on Wednesday, all employees returned to work, according to Seng Thida, a representative of workers.
“All of us, 1,800 of us, including the ones who were suspended, went back to work this morning,” Ms. Thida said.
An order from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, obtained Wednesday, said that the court had deemed the strike illegal from the beginning and had originally issued a warrant ordering staff back to work on June 13.
The second court order dated Tuesday, said the court “orders the employees and union at NagaWorld who have been striking illegally to stop striking immediately.
“In this case, if you do not stop, the prosecutor will forcefully implement [this order] in accordance with the law.”
Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation vice president Sok Narith said that the second order—which he said was issued at the behest of NagaWorld—added weight to the court’s message to workers.
“But this time, even though we do not want to follow it, we have to,” he said.
NagaWorld employee Chhum Sophy, 32, who has worked there since 2008, said that despite no concessions being given to employees, she had returned to work anyway.
“I think it is time to give each other another chance,” said Ms. Sophy, who makes beds at the NagaWorld hotel and is paid $90 per month.
“I hope that this time, the company really thinks about us [the employees].”
The strike is not the first at NagaWorld, which also saw large industrial action from staff in February this year, and Ms. Sophy said workers still wanted their pay raised.
“I’m giving them a chance. And if [they don’t improve wages], we will think about striking again soon,” she said.
© 2013, All rights reserved.