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Ousted workers capitulate

Ousted workers capitulate

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Nearly one-third of 67 sacked workers who have held out for months without pay in their battle to force Siem Reap’s Angkor Village Hotel and Resort to reinstate them have accepted compensation packages, union representatives said yesterday.

Thik Kaliyann/Phnom Penh Post
Police in Siem Reap quell a protest held by the employees of Angkor Village Hotel and Resort in November.

Sok Narith, deputy secretary of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers’ Federation, said 22 sacked workers had succumbed to financial pressure after the Siem Reap Provincial Court mysteriously reversed a reinstatement order on December 14.   

“It really affected the feeling of the workers. They struggled for months for reinstatement and then, after the second [reinstatement] verdict favoured them, the court immediately changed [its position] 100 per cent to what the hotel owners requested,” he said.

On October 26, the Siem Reap Provincial Court ordered that Angkor Village owners Tep Vantho and Olivier Piot temporarily reinstate all 67 workers until a final decision had been made on the case.  

The decision followed a non-binding ruling from the Arbitration Council that also found that Angkor Village was obliged to reinstate the workers.

Angkor Village began sacking the workers in August last year after some attempted to unionise.

The hotel’s owners, who could not be reached yesterday, have consistently argued the sackings were due to unrelated offences, including attempts to poison them.

The CTSWF has appealed the court’s ruling to overturn the temporary reinstatement with a hearing due at the Court of Appeal this month, Sok Narith said.

He also said the compensation package taken by some former workers violated the Cambodian Labour Law because it was calculated from the time they were terminated rather than when they accepted the deal.

Those who have accepted the compenstion packages will receive 15 days salary for each year they worked, which, with monthly wages amounting to between US$60 and $110, could total about $300 to $1,000, he added.

Siem Reap Provincial Court Judge Ly Sokleng said yesterday that a final decision on the issue of reinstatement would be determined at a hearing this month. 

“I cannot confirm about the date of the hearing exactly, however, it will be set this month,” he said.

The provincial court has also issued an order forbidding protests outside the hotel by workers, who have now set their sights internationally, launching a campaign against Angkor Village that includes posters and leaflets urging tourists not to stay there.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, said co-owner Olivier Piot had expressed frustration at the attempts to impact his business.

“He couldn’t understand their behaviour disturbing people’s holidays, and I said to him I’m sure some of the poorest workers in the world can’t understand your behaviour,” he said.  

Welsh said workers holding out against the compensation package were “dropping like flies” because they had no source of employment, compensation or social security, though a core group of 40 would not budge on their demands.

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