Hotel Cambodiana Workers Threaten to Strike

Hotel Cambodiana union members threatened to strike over unsolved grievances with workers’ contracts on Tuesday, as the Raffles Hotel labor dispute entered its third week of arbitration.

Two hundred Hotel Cambo­diana employees will walk out and strike in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs next week if the government does not send their case to the Arbitration Council, where collective labor disputes are heard, said Ly Korm, the hotel’s union president.

Ly Krom said the union would protest on behalf of 71 former senior employees whose contracts were not renewed last year during the financially crushing outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which damaged the region’s tourism and hotel industry.

The Labor Ministry last June said the complaint was not a collective dispute because it involved the expiration of contracts of individual employees.

“The ministry says it is not a collective dispute. But it affects many people,” Ly Korm said. “If they don’t send it to the Arbi­tration Council, we will go on strike.”

The Arbitration Council is an in­dependent body comprised of government officials, union members and employers.

A Labor Ministry official on Tuesday said Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng would be asked to call for reconciliation to send the case to the Arbitration Council.

“It is an individual dispute, not a collective one,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “But we will call it collective and move it out of the ministry.”

Hugo Van Noord of the Inter­national Labor Organization said collective disputes, which are not legally defined in the Cambodian labor law, involve a group of em­ployees with a common problem and a common interest.

He declined to pass judgment on the Hotel Cambodiana case but said the ILO was working with the ministry to clarify the definition of collective disputes.

Hotel Cambodiana managers could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, negotiations over a labor dispute at Cambodia’s two branches of the Raffles Inter­national hotel chain continued at the Arbitration Council Tuesday afternoon.

Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor Em­ployees Union members in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh stopped working on Christmas Eve last month to demand full payment of a 10 percent service charge attached to bills.

Union members have returned to work but continue to demand increased pay and benefits.

Minimum wages and the length of contracts remained major sticking points for the Siem Reap Raffles union on Tuesday.

Sar Sereyvuth, the union’s president, said many casual workers should be considered permanent staff and receive benefits offered to long-term employees.

He said many of the approximately 120 temporary staff have worked more than three years but still do not have long-term contracts.

The Labor Law stipulates that a company must provide permanent or long-term contracts to employees who have worked more than two years with the company.

“Casual workers don’t get service charge, public holidays, annual leave or sick leave,” he said.

“They get only $35 starting pay. We are demanding more.”

Hotel Le Royal manager Steph­an Gnaegi, speaking on behalf of both the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh Raffles, declined to comment Tuesday.


Related Stories

Exit mobile version