Official: Firings at Singapore Embassy Violate Labor Law Layoffs

The Singaporean Embassy has refused to give dismissed security guards the severance pay mandated by the labor law, a municipal labor official said Wednesday.

“The embassy is still being ob­stinate. They have not paid compensation to the dismissed staff based on the labor law,” said Kim Rattana, a labor inspection official for Daun Penh district who met with embassy officials and the dismissed guards last week.

An embassy spokesman denied this charge and said the embassy had already given the guards more than it was required.

The five guards say they were given only eight days’ notice that their jobs would end Sunday. The embassy gave them a month’s pay in compensation, and it offered to let them keep their jobs by working for MPA Security, which now handles the embassy’s security.

“We turned down this offer because they offered us low sala­ries and a risk of no payment if the company has no place to guard,” said Bout La, one of the dis­missed guards, who had worked for the embassy since 1996.

The embassy’s severance package, despite the offer of continued employment to the guards, was not enough, Kim Rattana said. Article 75 of the Labor Law states that workers who have been em­ployed for at least five years must have two months’ notice of termination of employment. In addition, Articles 89 and 91 call for 15 days’ severance pay for every year of a worker’s employ. That would make Bout La eligible for three-and-a-half months’ pay.

The spokesman said the embas­sy had to professionalize and outsource its security after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the US. “All Singapore embassies worldwide have therefore had to step up security measures,” he said.

The embassy generously negotiated with MPA to train and hire its old guards, the spokesman said. “The embassy has been reasonable and has in fact gone beyond what we are obliged to do by sourcing for alternative jobs for the watchmen,” he said.


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