The entire work force of the Ta Prohm temple restoration project in Siem Reap – more than 100 people – gathered at the temple yesterday to demand the reinstatement of 30 of their number who were dismissed at the start of the month.
The 145 workers plan to ask the Siem Reap provincial authorities for permission for a formal demonstration if Deyendra Singh Sood, the manager of the project run by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for Cambodia’s APSARA Authority, did not soon agree to reinstate the workers, said Eung Khoy, vice president of the Angkor Preservation Workers Union–Indian-Cambodian Cooperation Project.
“We won’t work and will just sit and wait for Sood to come see us,” Khoy said, adding that they would not return to work until Sood found a resolution for the workers, all of whom are members of his union.
Workers allege that the 30 who were dismissed were targeted because of their attempts at collective bargaining, but Sood said the workers’ dismissal was a routine budgetary decision made not by him but by the APSARA authority.
ASI could not respond to the workers’ complaints because it only provides expertise for what is, in reality, a project of the Cambodian government, Sood said.
Keeping on more workers at this time would only threaten the quality of work on the temple, he added.
Chan Sokhom Cheta, chief of Siem Reap province’s Labour and Vocational Training Department, said he had told the 30 dismissed workers to file a complaint to his department.
“The other workers who were not dismissed should work as normal and not plan to strike,” he said.
“This is not a good way to solve the problem.”
He said that according to Sood, the restoration project was almost finished, so downsizing was expected.
With assistance from Justine Drennan