Fired Raffles Staffers Make Public Appeal

Union leaders and workers fired from Hotel Le Royal made a public appeal Sunday to return to their jobs.

At a press conference outside the hotel, union leaders accused the Raffles-owned hotel in Phnom Penh of forcing its former staff into poverty for conducting a legal and peaceful strike.

“The workers are facing poverty and it is difficult for them to support their families. This poverty is caused by the hotel,” said Sao Vanthein, president of the union at Le Royal.

In all, 97 employees were fired after the weeklong strike in April, in which unionized workers de­manded that the hotel resume collecting a service charge and disburse it to its staff.

The US-based Inter­national Republican Institute is one of several groups that have boycotted hotel in protest. IRI country director Jackson Cox blasted Raffles at Sunday’s press conference.

“I am here to encourage the international community to continue to boycott Hotel Le Royal. Right and wrong in this case is, of course, clear. You are right and Raf­fles is wrong,” Cox said to the workers.

Phone calls to Le Royal manager Stephan Gnaegi seeking comment went unanswered Sunday.

The Arbitration Council, the body that hears labor disputes, ruled on June 8 that Le Royal unfairly fired the workers and signed a new labor agreement with an illegal, hand-picked group of representatives.

Le Royal refuted the council’s finding and legally nullified its orders to rehire the workers. A similar case involving the Raffles-owned Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap is still being considered by the council.

The municipality had denied the union permission to hold the press conference but changed its stance last week after several NGOs appealed on the workers’ behalf.


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