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Sacked hotel workers headed back to court

A dispute over the sacking of 67 workers from the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort in Siem Reap in August looks set for court again, but a labour rights advocate believes justice is no closer for workers.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said even if a court again ruled in the workers’ favour, the hotel’s owners, Olivier Piot and Tep Vantho, were unlikely to act.

“The Arbitration Council and courts have already ruled in favour of the unions,” he said. “The hotel, without any repercussions, has ignored all this. . . they must feel secure enough with their political connections.

“It’s a mockery of the Labour Law,” Welsh said.

The hotel sacked workers last August, shortly after they began unionising.

Piot and Tep Vantho say the workers were sacked for reasons unrelated to this.

The Siem Reap provincial court ordered the hotel owners in October to temporarily reinstate the sacked workers, but later reversed its decision.

The Arbitration Council also ordered the workers to be reinstated, which was ignored by the hotel’s owners, Welsh said.

Kim Sochet, a lawyer for the workers, said reconciliation talks broke down on Friday.

“We agreed to accept compensation then urged the hotel’s owner to withdraw their complaints of incitement, damaging hotel property and forging documents,” he said, adding the owners had refused. “We will face each other in court.”

The next court hearing, which could begin as early as Friday, will combine outstanding complaints from both sides that have previously been heard separately.

Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation Vice-President Morm Rithy, one of the sacked workers, said many workers accepted “unfair” compensation out of desperation.

“There are 10 workers who still support us,” he said.

Piot and Tep Vantho could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com
Thik Kaliyann at kaliyann.thik@phnompenhpost.com

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