Talks Fail to Settle Strike Over Hotel Charge

A heated four-hour meeting Tuesday between hotel unions and management at the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Labor Depart­ment ended with no agreement and the unions’ leader vowing to burn tires in front of six luxury hotels today.

“If there is no solution, we still con­tinue to strike,” said Ly Korm, president of the Cambodia Tour­ism and Service Workers Feder­ation.

Hotel worker unions began striking Monday at six top tier hotels, demanding that they reinstate the service charge—10 percent of the final bill—and give workers 75 percent of it. Hotels say the demands would hurt their competitiveness against the majority of lower quality hotels that are not required to impose a service charge.

Haing Sitha, deputy general director of the Labor Depart­ment, warned the unions that if they don’t end the strikes, the government will not enforce a directive issued Monday ordering ho­tels to reinstate the service charge.

Ly Korm said the unions were sticking to their demands to receive 75 percent of the service charge and would burn 50 tires in front of each hotel today to get their point across. They include the Hotel InterContinental, Hotel Cambodiana and Raffles Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh, and the Pansea Angkor Hotel, Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap.

Though ministry officials and hotel managers want to negotiate individually with their own union, Ly Korm said the federation would continue to negotiate as a block. “The federation wants to have the best service charge in the world here in Cambodia while millions of [Cambodian] people don’t have enough food to eat,” Man­fred Hager, general manager of Sun­way Hotel, said Tuesday.

Though workers at the Sun­way are not on strike, the hotel agreed to reinstate the service charge and give 30 percent to the workers. It cannot afford to pay more, Hager said, adding: “Bus­iness is very bad.”

Pierre Bernard, general manager of the Hotel Cambodiana and deputy president of the Phnom Penh Hotel Association, said his hotel would resume the service charge if 30 percent went to the workers.

Officials from three other unions—the Coalition of Cam­bodia Apparel Federation, the Free Trade Union of the King­dom of Cambodia and the Cam­bodian Independent Teachers’ Association—are scheduled to meet today to discuss a possible joint strike in a show of solidarity with the hotel workers.



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