The Siem Reap Provincial Court on Wednesday issued an injunction ordering current and former employees of the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa to stop protesting outside the front entrance amid ongoing demonstrations against the dismissal of 17 employees in September and October.
About 50 people joined on Wednesday’s protest outside the entrance, where hotel security guards had arranged vehicles and metal barricades to keep them at a distance. The protests have been going on for about two weeks and picked up following a breakdown in negotiations between hotel management and the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF) on Monday.
The injunction, signed by judge and deputy court director Ky Rithy, “orders all strikers to stop any activities that disturb staff or employees who are working.”
It goes on to order “all people who are not staff or employees of the hotel to temporarily leave any rally in front of the compound of the hotel that disturbs hotel customers and wait for the court’s decision.”
The five-star hotel fired two employees—also federation members—in September after they had collected 168 thumbprints from co-workers for a petition accusing managers of labor abuses and calling for their removal. The hotel fired another 15 employees in October.
The court is deciding whether to uphold an Arbitration Council decision to reinstate the 17 employees, which the hotel has ignored.
CTSWF president Morm Rithy said the protesters had the right to rally in front of the hotel.
“We cannot accept this court injunction because it violates the Constitution, which says all people have the right to nonviolent strikes and demonstrations. It also violates the Labor Law and workers’ rights,” he said.
Even so, Mr. Rithy said, they would suspend the protests in order to avoid arrests. Instead, he said, they would start demonstrating in front of the provincial court “as soon as possible.”
Kao Soupha, a lawyer for Victoria Angkor, said the hotel asked for the injunction because it believed the protest was illegal and defended the firings.
“We decided to fire the 17 employees because the hotel believed they were not good for the hotel,” Mr. Soupha said, “because they accused the company of looking down on pregnant women and demanded the firing of the [general manager] and CEO. And what they said was not true.”
“They made posts on Facebook to criticize the company and commented between each other,” he added. “You know, their posts on Facebook seriously hurt the company.”