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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hotel 'trying to split union'

Hotel 'trying to split union'

The president of a newlyformed union has accused the Sunway Hotel of trying to

prevent many of its workers from joining his union. Dam Sophat said the

management of the Malaysian-owned hotel was trying to split the Sunway


The Sunway's general manager, Manfred Häger, wrote to Ith Sam

Heng, the Minister for Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth, on

March 18 requesting that people in positions of "confidentiality and

sensitivity" be excluded from joining the union.

Häger attached a list of

around 50 employees that included the laundry supervisor, the assistant

housekeeper, the assistant storekeeper and the business center secretary. He

denied his motive was to split the union.

"I have worked in many

countries and there are always certain people who can't be part of the union,

especially if they handle cash and so on," he said. The position of the laundry

supervisor, he explained, could be regarded as sensitive if the person acted for

their department head while the head was on vacation.

Häger's letter

acknowledged the freedom of association enshrined in the Labor Law and

emphasized the exemption would not "undermine the natural process of free and

democratic labour movement".

However Sophat, whose union was formed in

January, argued that such exclusions were illegal.

"The law stipulated

that employees have the right to form a union - that is according to Article 266

of the Labor Law," Sophat said. He added that he did not want to cause trouble

at the hotel, but warned that if the management excluded employees from joining

"then we will have some problems".

Four of the capital's largest hotels

have held union drives in recent months resulting in a sign-up rate of around 80




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