The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has renewed its call for the NagaWorld integrated resort and its former employees to show patience and mutual understanding as it works to find a solution to their labour dispute.
The ministry said little headway had been made in talks between the two, and warned that if they could not reconcile their differences, the matter would be decided in court.
In a March 23 notice updating the progress of the talks, the ministry said it would continue efforts to mediate discussions, in accordance with its lawful role – as well as the wishes of workers representatives, who said they would prefer to negotiate a solution directly with the company.
The March 23 meeting was the fifth time the ministry had invited both parties to meet. The meeting was led by Tes Rukhaphal, secretary-general of the ministry’s committee for the resolution of strikes. Representatives of the workers and the employer both expressed strong opinions in the meeting.
According to the statement, the workers’ representatives and their union continue to demand that employees be allowed to return to work before other negotiations can begin.
However, a NagaWorld representative stated that the company would not accept the return of the laid-off workers and would not consider a swap with existing employees – which was proposed by the workers’ representatives.
They also claimed the representatives had misinterpreted their message during the previous March 21 meeting. They said the representatives had spoken to the media – as well as posting on social media – that the company had plans to make another 600 employees redundant, which it said is not true.
The statement added that after vigorous discussions, the two sides had not yet reached an agreement. The ministry has scheduled the next meeting for the afternoon of March 29, giving both parties time to consider possible mutual concessions that may lead to an end to the dispute.
Separately, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has denied reports that authorities used violence against the protesters, who are former and current employees of NagaWorld.
A March 23 press release from the administration stated that protesters continued to gather and hold unauthorised demonstrations in public places – without following its instructions.
The administration had instructed them to stop their “illegal” activities and invited them to Freedom Park, where they could express their views without putting public health at risk. It was unfortunate the repeated administrative, legal and educational measures taken by the authorities had not appeared to calm the protesters, it said.
The protesters continued to commit illegal acts, and appeared to be directed by a group that sought to exploit them by painting them as victims, it added.
“Obviously, the protesters continued to gather according to a scenario designed to shape the narrative in the way they wanted. They used abusive language, offensive gestures and behaved inappropriately in order to provoke anger from the authorities, and then took only photographs and video of the outcome,” the release stated.