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Angkor hoteliers dig heels in

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Former employees of Angkor Village Hotel and Resort continue to protest yesterday after not being reinstated, as instructed by two separate court orders. Photo by: Thik kaliyann

Despite a second order from the Siem Reap provincial court that a five-star hotel in Siem Reap reinstate 67 workers it fired about four months ago, its French and Khmer owners continue to refuse to do so.

The second provincial court order that Angkor Village Hotel and Resort reinstate the workers was issued on November 15, delivered to the hotel on Monday and received by workers on Wednesday morning, Sok Narit, deputy director of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, told the Post yesterday.

Sok Narit said that employees took copies of the court order to the hotel at about 2pm yesterday and that they were accompanied by local officials who supported them. “We don’t have the power or money to change this, so we hope the law will be applied, and we hope the government will pay close attention to this case because it has been dragging on for four months,” Sok Narit said.

The court order instructed the hotel to reinstate the workers while its appeal of an earlier ruling to do so was being considered, Dave Welsh, country director for the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, told the Post.

“The workers simply lined up in front of the hotel with copies of the court order telling its owners to reinstate them.

Police delivered a copy of the order to the hotel’s owners. They ignored them,” he said.

The hotel’s owners – Olivier Piot and Tep Vantho – fired the workers in August after staff formed a union. The workers took their case to the Arbitration Council, which later that month issued a non-binding ruling that the hotel reinstate them as well as compensate them for other violations of the Labour Law, including failure to pay overtime.

The hotel’s owners ignored the Arbitration Council’s ruling and the sacked workers who took their case to the Siem Reap Municipal Court, which decided in their favour on October 26. Piot and Tep Vantho appealed that decision.

“The workers are getting desperate,” Sok Narit said. “Most have children. They have loans to pay back to microfinance institutes. If they can’t pay their loans, they will lose their property,” he said, adding that almost none of them had been able to get jobs at other hotels in the town because they had been fired.

Former employee Chhey Phy, 29, alleged that the owners had emailed photos of the workers to managers of other hotels in the town and urged them not to hire them. Piot and Vantho could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The International Labour Organisation also urged the hotel’s owners to abide by Cambodian law and the Arbitration Council. “We certainly keep an eye on these disputes,” ILO advocacy officer Maeve Galvin said. “The Arbitration Council was an ILO initiative and has a 70 per cent success rate so we would be very supportive of their rulings and obviously the Labour Law should be upheld in these cases,” she said.

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