Service Charge Dispute Revived at Hotels

Unions representing some 2,000 hotel employees are again threatening to strike during one of the country’s busiest tourist seasons.

A union leader said Sunday the workers will strike today if the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor does not immediately broker a meeting about service char­ges with managers of seven luxury hotels in the capital and Siem Reap. The unions say hotels must resume collecting the service char­ges and pay most of the extra revenue to hotel staff.

Most luxury hotels in Cambo­dia traditionally collected an automatic service charge as company revenue. However, the government this year ordered that the money go to hotel workers, and hotels dropped the charges altogether.

“We will go on strike until there is a solution,” said Ly Korm, president of the Cambodia Tourism and Service Workers Federation.

The strike would affect Sunway Hotel, Hotel InterContinental, Hotel Cambodiana, Raffles Le Royal Hotel, Pansea Angkor Hotel, Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel.

Ly Korm said the union is de­manding that the hotels reinstate service charges and the workers receive 75 percent—less than the 90 percent initially re­quested.

That demand is unreasonable and unfairly applies only to luxury hotels, said Phnom Penh Hotel Association President Tek Ket.

Both sides said Sunday that a resolution fell through Friday at a meeting, which a representative of the ministry failed to attend.

“This is all because of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ mistake,” Ly Korm said. Oum Mean, general director of the ministry’s labor department, missed the meeting, according to Ly Korm and Tek Ket. He could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng on Feb 26 ordered the hotels to resume the service char­ges. The hotels agreed at the time but last month informed the union they would not collect the char­ges.

The long-contested charge has been the main sticking point in negotiations be­tween hotels and staff, and it led to a brief strike at luxury hotels around Christmas. Hotels are again gearing up for crowds as Khmer New Year approaches.

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