NAGAWORLD casino has fired more than 400 workers who have spent about 10 days striking to demand a wage increase, union leaders, workers and a leaked internal memo have revealed.
A list of names, obtained by the Post yesterday, was emailed to management and senior staff at the casino from a human resources manager on Wednesday, just hours after 19 strikers were detained during a police and security crackdown outside the casino.
The email was marked of high importance and identified staff from a range of departments who had “been involved in the illegal strike against the Company. The Company has therefore terminated/suspended their contracts”.
Sok Narith, vice president of The Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF), said hundreds of workers will resume strikes outside NagaWorld today to protest their sackings, which had come by way of text message and email.
“They’re using this message to threaten the strikers into thinking they have to return to work without any demands or they have lost their jobs,” he said. “But we will strike against the company until it respects the Labour Law and implements orders of the Arbitration Council.”
Workers disputes at NagaWorld have been the subject of five Arbitration Council hearings since early 2009.
Chhim Sitha, vice president of casino’s in-house union, said she received a message on Wednesday informing her she had been fired, prior to negotiations between government officials and worker representatives.
“The company accused us of making an illegal strike,” she said. “So I sent the message to Ministry of Labour officials to intervene.”
Sitha said last Tuesday that workers had begun striking on June 13, demanding the minimum wage in the casino be increased to $150 per month and had sensed management was trying to replace them.
“During the strikes, the company has no right to employ new staff, but the company has made an announcement on new jobs,” she said. “Some people have said [advertisements] were in the newspaper,” she said.
Dave Welsh, country manager for Solidarity Center/ACILS, said NagaWorld did not have grounds to sack the workers and had used such internal memos to threaten strikers in the past.
“They would have to be fired for cause – and there was no cause,” he said. “If they’re using the reason that the strike was illegal, it wasn’t illegal. There was notice given.”
Labour problems at NagaWorld dated back a number of years, Welsh added.
“There’s a pattern . . . of politically connected foreign-owned companies engaging in rampant abuse and being able to get away with it.”
The termination list was sent the morning after security guards – backed by police – cracked down on hundreds of workers carrying out a peaceful strike in parkland opposite the casino.
The security guards dismantled the strikers’ tents and detained 19 workers
and union leaders who refused to be moved.
The detainees, 11 of whom were women, were released without charge on Tuesday night.
A representative from NagaWorld requested yesterday that questions be emailed to her but did not provide answers by press time.
Khieu Savuth, the deputy director of the Ministry of Labour’s dispute department, said that he considered the memo to workers “informal” and not threatening.
“However, I urge the company not to fire the strikers and for the workers to stop striking. Both sides should resume negotiations,” he said.