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Union makes poisoning claim

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Employees of the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort in Siem Reap town protest on Wednesday outside the hotel.

Siem Reap
More than 70 employees continued to protest in front of a luxury resort in Siem Reap town yesterday, demanding that 18 workers be reinstated after they were allegedly dismissed for attempting to unionise.

Chhey Phi, head of the Angkor Village Resort Workers Union, claimed yesterday that the owners of the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort had accused some employees of poisoning fellow staff members’ food as an excuse for firing them.

“The hotel owners were unhappy with our workers union, so they tried to find methods to fire us. Recently they accused employees, including me, of purposely poisoning the staff food, but this is not true,” she said. “Nine staff members were fired in connection with this accusation and nine others fired without a specific reason.”

Provincial labour officials said yesterday that the hotel owners informed them during a meeting on Wednesday that they would reinstate those who had been fired, but that employees who arrived at the hotel yesterday were denied permission to work.

“The owner was making an excuse in the meeting on Wednesday when he said he would allow fired staff members to return to work,” provincial labour department chief Chan Sokhom Cheta said. “Today he did not follow up on that promise.”

He added that the provincial governor had been informed of the protest and another meeting between local authorities and the hotel owners would be held on Friday in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Officials also expressed concern that the protest would have a negative effect on tourism in the area.

Siem Reap district police chief Soun San said yesterday that the owners should have given notice to employees and revealed the “specific reason” for firing them, but urged workers to end the protest in order to avoid putting a damper on tourism.

“We don’t need any turmoil here, we feel ashamed,” he said.

Owners of the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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