Union Seeks Gov’t Directive on Service Charge

Embattled unions at luxury hotels are negotiating with the Ministry of Social Affairs on the drafting of a government directive to define the thorny issue of how hotels should collect a service charge on guests’ bills and disburse it to staff.

Fallout over the charge led to strikes last month at seven top-tier hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, prompting many of them to take the issue to court as management at two Raffles-owned hotels fired some 300 workers.

Ministry officials and union heads met to discuss a draft directive on Thursday, and members of the Hotel Association will join discussions next week, said Haing Sitha, deputy general director of the ministry’s labor department. “I hope the two sides can succeed in forming a directive,” Haing Sitha said.

Although all parties involved say the process of drafting a directive is in its early stage, a draft directive dated May 11 mandates that hotels where management used to collect the service charge should resume doing so.

The draft law says individual hotels and unions can negotiate how much of the charge goes to workers, and that hotels without an agreement with unions must give half of that revenue to staff.

Ly Korm, president of the Cam­bo­dian Tourism and Service Workers’ Federation, declined to comment on how talks progressed Thursday, but said the direc­tive should order hotels to collect a 10 percent service charge. The draft directive does not specify a required percentage for the service charge.

Unions have demanded that the hotels collect the service charge and disburse it to workers, as mandated in the labor law. The hotels kept the charge as revenue for years, but dropped it from bills in the face of union demands.


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