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Ex-soldiers and strikers

Ex-soldiers and strikers

Following your story in your last edition, "Ex-soldiers replace striking workers," (Post,

April 23) I am writing to express my profound disappointment at the decision to report

what is undoubtedly a newsworthy and relevant issue in a way which detracts from

the valuable work carried out by our project.

This reflects unfavorably on the hard work and commitment shown by these highly marginalized

and disadvantaged people in their sincere efforts to attain useful and marketable

skills, and to ease the struggle of reintegration into civil society.

Furthermore, the choice to highlight the case of three individuals from the 100 we

have trained or are in the process of training, or the 40 who have already found

employment in the hospitality industry, seems somewhat injudicious. I would therefore

like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points which call into question the

wisdom of the chosen headline.

With regards to the ongoing dispute in the hotel industry, we have always fully supported

the process of negotiation, arbitration and legal initiatives taken to resolve this

sensitive matter. We have indeed been approached by some of the hotels in question,

as we believe have several other schools and training institutions active in this

area, and highlighting this would undoubtedly have made for a more accurate and appropriate

article and headline.

In each case we have stated our position clearly: under no circumstances could

we provide staff to replace workers in the process of industrial action. In the case

of the three trainees used as the basis for the above headline, they were engaged

by the Hotel Inter-Continental on the 8th of April, before the current action began,

and considerably before the escalation of tensions brought about since. These placements

were the result of discussions started in February, as were the many other placements

achieved through the hard work and dedication of our project staff.

We would like to express our appreciation and thanks for the continued support our

trainees and project have received from all our private sector partners, including

the Hotel Inter-Continental. It is a testimony to the success and hard work of our

trainees - all of whom six months ago had little formal education, few if any language

skills, no marketable practical skills, and consequently little hope of employment

- that they are now in a position to help themselves and their families, in addition

to contributing to the Cambodian economy and growing tourism industry. That they

have achieved this through some of Cambodia's leading international companies

is doubly rewarding.

We have always had great respect for the work of the Phnom Penh Post in diligently

investigating, analyzing and reporting the many issues facing Cambodian development.

In this case, however, it is a shame that the selection and ordering of facts, and

the choice of headline, gave a misleading impression of both our work and our

trainees' achievements on such an exciting, valuable and innovative project.

Danny Whitehead - Assistant Project Manager - Retraining Project for Demobilised

Solders

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