More than a year after it was given a start, a workers’ strike at the Cambodia-based NagaWorld casino complex is still taking place. It has been a risky endeavor for the casino employees and, on the other hand, put a stain on the reputation of the country on the international stage. The good news is that some negotiations that might finally bring the workers’ strike to an end are set to take place in February.
According to local media reports, representatives of the worker union and the casino operator are set to meet for the 23rd time at the negotiating table on February 17th, 2023. The process will be overseen by Tes Rukhaphal, who currently heads the Labour Advisory Committee in Cambodia.
NagaWorld’s workers went on a strike in December 2021, after the casino property owner – NagaCorp – decided to reduce its workforce after the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. As part of these efforts, the company allegedly tried to rewrite some of its agreements with the labor union.
Since then, representatives of the worker union and staff members have been fighting NagaCorp, with the game of nerves taking place for over a year now. The peaceful workers’ strikes have resulted in arrests and alleged tortures on the part of Cambodian authorities, which in its turn resulted in public condemnation, and the company faced charges of violating human rights.
NagaWorld Violated Human Rights Striking Workers Claim
As mentioned above, the strike has continued over the past 13 months, with Cambodian police forces repeatedly arresting individuals who went on a strike for “disrupting the peace”, although NagaWorld’s employees have not engaged in any violent or criminal activity at the time of the strike. Some female casino employees were arrested by police on more than one occasion and, as they later claimed, were assaulted and abused. The worker union leader, Chhim Sithar, was also arrested twice in an effort to send a message to the ones on the picket lines.
Despite that, workers, representatives of the worker union and their supporters are still demanding the reinstatement of some employees and wages, and they are not willing to give up the fight.
According to reports, NagaWorld has so far managed to resolve its differences with 255 of the 373 former employees who were fired. All of them have allegedly received payments in order for the operator to legally terminate their contracts but the 118 workers who have not managed to find common ground with the gambling operator are not willing to give in.
Although they have been still hopeful to see the argument resolved with an agreement soon, experts do not believe that the workers are ready to be flexible. For them, what started as a fight for their rights under the contracts they had with the company turned into a fight against the system.
Allegedly, NagaWorld has been supported by the Cambodian Government on biases and that has turned the strike into a battle over workers’ rights. What is more, the ongoing strike is also highlighting the deficiencies in Cambodia’s legal system, especially after the second arrest of the worker union leader Chhim Sithar and NagaWorld’s refusal to recognize some agreements that have a binding force for both parties.