The foreign owner of a luxury Siem Reap hotel has sued four workers he sacked last year, alleging they damaged his property during protests in which they accused him of firing them for unionising.
In total, 67 workers were sacked last year by Ankor Village Hotel and Resort owners Olivier Piot and Tep Vantho after they began unionisng, leading to a series of protests and court intervention.
The pair have consistently claimed the staff were sacked for unrelated insubordination, an argument that has been dismissed by the arbitration council and a subsequent court ruling, though a final appeal decision is still pending.
Morm Rithy, vice president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers’ Federation and one of those who was sacked, said yesterday he did not understand how he could be summonsed to the Appeal Court on an allegation already dismissed by the provincial court.
“I don’t have any documents with me because I do not know this case, and I also did not damage the hotel’s property,” he said.
The hotel’s former chef and CTSWF president, Korng Kimlean, said she was not worried about the complaint, because workers had committed no wrongdoing.
“We protested in front of the hotel; we did not destroy its property, not even one flower, but we don’t know why the owner of this hotel and resort, Olivier Piot, filed a complaint against us for intentional damage,” she said.
Piot and Tep Vantho could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sacked workers Chan Chakrya and Korng Sytha have also been summoned to answer the complaint, which will be heard on February 29 and March 1.
The long-running dispute has attracted unwanted attention to Cambodia’s premier tourism destination, where provincial officials have sought to intervene, expressing concern it is damaging the area’s reputation.
Today, the appeal court is scheduled to rule on the sacked workers’ demand that the hotel immediately reinstate them because they were unlawfully dismissed.