Workers at Phnom Penh’s NagaWord casino are set to strike on Jan 9, a union said in a letter to the company.
The union made six demands, including a higher minimum wage for employees starting at $300 per month for hotel staff and $500 for those on the gambling floor. It is also seeking the reinstatement of union president Chhim Sithar, who was suspended in September for defending a worker carrying a T-shirt that was printed as part of the union’s campaign for living wages.
A Labor Ministry mediation between the company and the Khmer Employees’ Labour Rights Support Union of NagaWorld in October failed to make headway.
“We still haven’t received any response from the company to discuss how to settle this dispute,” Sithar told CamboJA News. The company needs to show “willingness to have a dialogue and negotiation to talk with us for a solution.”
Sithar said the union’s demand for higher wages was reasonable considering the casino’s growing profits — “the company makes almost $4 million every day.”
The current wage for the hotel workers is between $191 to $230 depending on seniority, and for gambling staff between $230 to $370. About 4,000 of 8,700 workers at the casino are part of the union, according to VOD.
Khun Tharo, project coordinator for labor rights group Central, criticized both the company and dispute resolution officials in their handling of the case.
“The working procedure in this dispute of Naga casino workers is not following the right procedure,” Tharo said, citing a failure to classify the various parts of the dispute such as the collective demands from workers and Sithar’s individual issues.
“They [seem] afraid of union empowerment,” he said of NagaCorp, the casino’s owner. It appeared to be willing to “do anything to remove the union movement from their company.”
The company should negotiate in good faith with the workers to resolve their differences, he added.
“If 4,000 workers go on strike for a week, the company will lose a lot of income,” he said.
A NagaCorp representative did not respond.
According to a company report from earlier this year, NagaCorp made $245 million in profit for the first half of the year, up 36 percent from a year earlier. Its gross gaming revenue rose 22 percent to $872 million, the report said.