About 100 chefs and kitchen staff walked off the job at the capital’s NagaWorld casino yesterday as a workers’ strike at the luxury entertainment venue entered its fifth day.
More than 1,000 protesters — the majority of the casino’s workers — rallied outside the front entrance of NagaWorld, repeating calls that management reinstate four sacked food and beverage workers and comply with Arbitration Council decisions that date back years.
A chef, still dressed in his kitchen garb, voiced the workers’ frustrations.
“We cannot put up with more,” the chef, who asked not to be named, said.
“A few days ago, we were afraid to participate in the strike because we were afraid of being fired, but now we must stand up for our rights.”
With an increase in strikers came an increase in security force: police and military police joined private security guards near the casino’s front entrance, where workers were blocking cars from pulling up at the doors.
About 10 strikers were later thwarted in their attempts to re-enter the casino to negot-iate with management.
Sum Pharen, a labour-dispute representative from the Ministry of Labour, said Jeremy Chea, a human-resources manager whose name has been plastered on the strikers’ signs, had declined Pharen’s offer to negotiate at the casino.
“He wasn’t in a position to find a solution yet, so the ministry will invite him to a meeting at the ministry at 8:30am [today],” Pharen said.
He added that the meeting would also include a representative of the strikers.
Through a loudspeaker, Sok Narith, vice-president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, broadcast a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen, made in December, during which he urged highers-up at an un-named casino to respect the rights of their workers.
Many of the strikers, who applauded the recording as it blasted across the crowd, believe Hun Sen was referring to NagaWorld.
Labour-rights campaigners have criticised the casino for ignoring Arbitration Council decisions and being intolerant of the in-house independent union.
NagaWorld managers either hung up the phone or did not answer calls yesterday.
ADDIT-IONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL