Hotel Unions Vote to Strike

Union representatives at nine luxurious Phnom Penh and Siem Reap hotels voted Sunday to strike this week if owners do not agree to resume charging customers service fees, union representatives said.

The hotel arm of the Cambodia Tourism and Service Workers Federation threatened to strike Saturday or earlier if a resolution does not reinstate the long-contested charge, which seven hotels discontinued early this year, union president Ly Korm said.

On Feb 26, the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Ith Sam Heng ordered the hotels to resume charges, which usually add about 10 percent to patrons’ bills. At the time, the hotel owners agreed, and the union suspended a threatened strike, said Oum Mean, the ministry’s general Labor Department director. But on March 4, the owners informed the union they would not resume the charge, he said.

“If there is no written order to the hotels to resume the service charge and pay the workers money owed them since January, the workers will strike to force the management” to resume the charge, said Ly Korm, whose federation of 11 unions represents about 3,000 workers at hotels, airports and resorts. The hotels that would be affected are: Hotel Cambodiana, Juliana Hotel, Hotel Inter­Continental, Sunway Hotel, Raf­fles Le Royal Hotel, Raffles Grand D’Angkor Hotel, Sofitel Royal Ang­kor Hotel, Holiday Villa Phnom Penh Hotel, and Pansea Angkor Hotel.

Ith Sam Heng had planned a meeting on March 5, but suspended it without rescheduling, according to a ministry letter.

Ker Soksidney, an adviser to Ith Sam Heng, couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

The hotel owners want another ministry meeting to resolve the issue, said Tek Ket, Phnom Penh Hotels Association president. “We must have a solution. But right now our stance is to end the service charge,” he said.

The hotels decided to discontinue the charge to benefit the “whole service industry,” he said.

If the hotels charge for service, other businesses will have to charge, as well, he added.

Article 134 of the Labor Law says a “service charge must be collected and shared” among the workers, though many have said there are differing interpretations of the article.


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