Cambodian integrated resort operator NagaCorp has described its employee wages and fringe benefits program as “one of the best and if not the highest in Cambodia” and accused union leaders of failing to engage in amicable discussions after a group of 500 to 700 workers rallied outside of the company’s NagaWorld complex in Phnom Penh on Thursday.
Local media reported last week that up to 3,000 NagaWorld employees had joined the strike action demanding higher pay and better working conditions, including an increase in the wages of hotel staff to US$300 a month and gaming floor workers to US$500 a month, claiming that current wages start at between US$150 and US$250 a month. They also called for the reinstatement of former NagaWorld employee and President of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld, Ms Chhim Sithar, who was suspended in September.
Issuing a strongly-worded defense against “one-sided inaccurate media reports” concerning the labor dispute on Friday, NagaCorp – whose workforce numbers around 8,200 – said it “pays high wages and fringe benefits to its employees” with its lowest monthly take home pay being US$270 for entry-level hotel employees and US$385 for entry-level casino employees. It added that employees were given cash bonuses and other fringe benefits including a recently-implemented language incentive program, unlimited meals and a staff discount on household goods at NagaMart.
NagaCorp also explained that the suspension of Ms Sithar was in response to a breach of the group’s rules and regulations after she allegedly held a meeting with union members aimed at encouraging them not to work during the Pchum Ben Holidays on 27, 28 and 29 September 2019.
“NagaWorld is a 24-hour service and hospitality company which generates more revenue during holidays,” the company said. “Right from the outset, when NagaWorld signs any employment contract with all employees, it makes it as a contractual obligation and it is compulsory for the employees to work on some public holidays and on roster/rotational shifts.
“In addition, those who work on holidays are paid 300% more than the non-holidays period and fringe benefits [are provided] to employees.”
NagaCorp said that Ms Sithar remains on full pay while suspended pending an investigation, however it also accused the NagaWorld Union of showing “no willingness … to have amicable discussions with NagaWorld to resolve these matters in accordance with the applicable legal proceedings” by denying a meeting request by the Ministry of Labour on 26 September 2019 and walking out of a meeting on 18 October 2019.
In reference to Thursday’s strike, the company said it had previously obtained a court injunction from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruling the strike illegal and that any employees who participated would be considered to be committing a “grave offence.” No details on potential ramifications were provided, with NagaCorp stating, “All business operations of the Group remain normal and the Board expects that the above matter has had no negative impact on the business operations of the Group.”