The president of a newlyformed union has accused the Sunway Hotel of trying to
prevent many of its workers from joining his union. Dam Sophat said the
management of the Malaysian-owned hotel was trying to split the Sunway
The Sunway's general manager, Manfred Häger, wrote to Ith Sam
Heng, the Minister for Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth, on
March 18 requesting that people in positions of "confidentiality and
sensitivity" be excluded from joining the union.
Häger attached a list of
around 50 employees that included the laundry supervisor, the assistant
housekeeper, the assistant storekeeper and the business center secretary. He
denied his motive was to split the union.
"I have worked in many
countries and there are always certain people who can't be part of the union,
especially if they handle cash and so on," he said. The position of the laundry
supervisor, he explained, could be regarded as sensitive if the person acted for
their department head while the head was on vacation.
acknowledged the freedom of association enshrined in the Labor Law and
emphasized the exemption would not "undermine the natural process of free and
democratic labour movement".
However Sophat, whose union was formed in
January, argued that such exclusions were illegal.
"The law stipulated
that employees have the right to form a union - that is according to Article 266
of the Labor Law," Sophat said. He added that he did not want to cause trouble
at the hotel, but warned that if the management excluded employees from joining
"then we will have some problems".
Four of the capital's largest hotels
have held union drives in recent months resulting in a sign-up rate of around 80