Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp Ltd said in a Friday filing that it expected “no negative impact” on its business operations following a strike by some disgruntled workers at its NagaWorld casino complex (pictured) in Phnom Penh.
It was reported on Thursday that a large number of workers at NagaWorld had withdrawn their labour that day, citing complaints including a demand for higher pay.
NagaCorp said in its Friday filing that “approximately 500 to 700 employees” out of a workforce of “8,200” at the complex, participated in an “illegal gathering” on Thursday outside the company’s properties, but the firm added that “all business operations of the group remained normal”. A report from Reuters news agency on Thursday said thousands of workers took part in the strike.
NagaCorp stated that unionised workers had “demanded” the firm adjust the monthly minimum wage to US$300 for hotel employees, and US$500 for casino employees. But it said current pay levels were already among “the best… if not the highest in Cambodia”.
The casino operator stated arbitration had been attempted in November, but the dispute had dragged on.
NagaCorp noted that on Wednesday it had obtained an injunction from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which ruled that the strike called for Thursday would be considered “illegal” and anyone that participated in it would be “committing a grave offence”.
The casino group further noted that the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance had issued a ruling order to “investigate the strike and to take the necessary legal action against the employees who were involved in the illegal strike for violation of the court injunction”.
In Friday’s announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, NagaCorp said also that there were no grounds for “termination” of a “foreign” casino operations manager at NagaWorld casino complex, as the firm implied had been demanded by the unionised workers.
“The casino operation manager is not in breach of any rules and regulations of the group and hence the group has no reason and no cause to dismiss him.” It did not name the manager concerned.
The company added the manager was “accountable to the group and not accountable to the NagaWorld Union” – a reference to an organised body of workers at the venue. The firm added the labour organisation had acted outside its “legal limits”.
Union rep paid but suspended
The filing to the Hong Kong bourse noted that on September 20, a woman named Chhim Sithar, described as president of the NagaWorld Union, had been suspended from her job as a result of “alleged breach of the group’s rules and regulations”.
The firm added: “Despite such suspension, the NagaWorld Union president continued to work against the interests of the group by inciting and intimidating other employees of the group (both unionised and non-unionised) not to attend to work,” during the country’s Pchum Ben holidays. That festival is based on the lunar calendar, and in 2019 it ran from September 28 to 30.
The firm added it expected to “continue to suspend Ms Chhim Sithar, but with full pay, pending further investigations and analysis of additional breaches of contract and actions committed by her…”
The firm said that its workers were aware from the start of their employment that there was a “contractual obligation” to work on “some public holidays” and on “roster/rotational shifts,” and that in return for work during public holidays they were entitled to receive “300-percent more” than for non-holiday-time work.
The company would “keep the shareholders” and “potential investors informed of any material developments,” in the dispute, it added.
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