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No room for strike in Siem Reap

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Angkor Village Hotel and Resort staff protest outside the Siem Reap property yesterday.

Provincial authorities in Siem Reap will demand that the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort respect an Arbitration Council decision, which it has so far baulked at, ordering it to reinstate more than 60 workers fired since July.

Following protests outside the hotel and at a court hearing where six union representatives faced charges stemming from a complaint by  the hotel, deputy provincial governor Kim Chhay Heang said the dispute was drawing unwanted attention.

“I will set the meeting between them and the governor next week. We don’t need any protesting and turmoil in a tourism province,” Kim Chhay Heang said by phone after intervening to end the protest.

He said the provincial governor would demand during next week’s meeting that the hotel respect the Arbitration Council’s decision.

The decision, handed down on August 30, ordered Angkor Village Hotel owners Tep Vantou and Olivier Piot to reinstate 67 workers sacked for alleged offences, including trying to poison management, after staff began unionising earlier in the year.  

Tep Vantou said yesterday she had not been informed that the deputy provincial governor would demand that the workers be reinstated.

Yesterday morning, 70 people protested at a Siem Reap court as charges were heard of illegally demonstrating, inciting criminal acts and defamation against union members Kang Kimlean, Kang Sitha and Chan Chariya, who faced an additional count of issuing death threats against the hotel’s owners. No decision has been reached.  

Demonstrators had then moved on to the Angkor Village Hotel, where they were joined by Tourism Commission observers, Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation deputy director  Sok Narith said.

“Some guests came up and asked us  what was happening in front of the hotel. They feel not so well because they saw that the owner of the hotel did not respect the rights of workers,” he said.

The hotel’s owners did not speak to the crowd but posted a statement at the premises telling about 100 assembled protesters that those who had been sacked would not be reinstated.

“We don’t want to work in an atmos-phere of hate and anger among the staff,” the statement read. It reiterated claims that workers had been fired for trying to poison management, not for unionising.
Dave Welsh, country director of the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, slammed the hotel’s dismissal of workers and subsequent complaints as “totally anti-union behaviour”.

“If they want international attention brought against their hotel, they’ve got it. It’s bad form – total union-busting,” Welsh said.

Sok Narith said the governor would ask both sides to drop the complaints they had filed against each  other.

“For the unions, we will accept any process of peaceful negotiation. We have a strong commitment to good co-oper-ation between unions and employers,” he said.

The Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation has filed a complaint to local authorities accusing the luxury hotel of unlawful termination of employment.

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