Stadium Staff Protest Planned July Eviction

Olympic Stadium staff have staged a protest after being told to clear the premises by July 15 to allow for renovations to begin on the aging sports complex.

Staffers, who have been quietly striking since the government signed a renovation agreement with a Taiwanese developer last month, fear losing their jobs during the year-long overhaul and are demanding $3,000 each in compensation.

But government officials say staff members mistakenly believe the stadium has been completely turned over to the developer, who will replace them once the improvements are complete.

“The striker’s demands go too far. They have to understand that the government has not sold or rented the stadium to this company,” said Bou Chum Serey, und­er­secretary of state for the Min­is­try of Education. “We want to keep control of this strike and do not want [strikers] to do anything like burn tires.”

In late May, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed an agreement with the Yuan Ta Group for $3.6 million in repairs for the stadium. In return, the company will be allowed to develop the area surrounding the stadium and is planning to build a $40 million business-entertainment complex.

A sub-committee of ministry officials and stadium employees has been established to resolve conflicts created by the renovations and has been meeting four or five times a week, Bou Chum Serey said. Displaced staff will be moved to a temporary office on Noro­dom Boulevard, he said. Bou Chum Serey acknowledged that staff members—many of whom were living at the stadium—will need money to cover living expenses, but said they are asking for too much.

“Compare that to soldiers, who also asked for compensation from the Ministry of Defense and only received $240,” Bou Chum Serey said.

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