A spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration expressed regret that former and current employees of the NagaWorld integrate resort continued to hold public demonstrations, while little progress appeared to have been made at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training brokered talks between the sides.
In a press release, municipal hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey said he was disappointed that strikers continued to protest, despite the gathering being declared illegal. What he found unthinkable was the way that the demonstrators appeared to have prepared actions designed to garner sympathy – and make authorities look aggressive – in advance.
“On the afternoon of March 29, they carried out obviously rehearsed performances. Some of the protestors were cast as distraught – kneeling and crying and pleading. Some even pretended to faint,” the press release said.
“Others were cast as violent members of a mob, using violence against police officers to create images of scuffling, along with minor injuries. These people expressed contempt for the police and used the foulest language and gestures imaginable to try to provoke a violent response. If the officers had not maintained their calm professionalism – as they are trained to do – then images of their response would have been blown out of proportion and used for propaganda purposes by the mob,” it said.
The press release added that despite persistent allegations that the police had used violence and sexually harassed female protestors, not a single victim had filed a complaint with the courts or police. This clearly showed that the allegations were baseless.
Meanwhile, negotiations between NagaWorld representatives and trade union representatives had yet to reach a consensus on March 29.
In a progress update, the labour ministry said while union representatives expressed hopes for a win-win outcome, they continued to demand that NagaWorld reinstate the laid-off employees before any other points would be discussed.
NagaWorld representatives said the company could not accept these terms and would not consider exchanging workers, as per the request. The company said it was still took the position that a settlement could be reached, but that the union representatives were going to have to suggest a different solution. The company would wait to hear the workers next offer, it said.
The update made it clear that NagaWorld understands that all issues will be discussed and solutions found, whether through mediation or the courts.
As the two sides could reach no agreement, the ministry scheduled another meeting for April 6. It hopes this meeting will result in an agreement between the two. It hoped that both sides would re-consider the possibility of mutual concessions that could lead to an end to the dispute, and remained committed to its role of mediator.
Human rights groups and NGOs working in the field of labour rights urged both sides to work together and settle the dispute as soon as possible, so that no incidents occurred that could have an adverse impact on public order.