Cambodia Arrests Workers Protesting Layoffs at Casino NagaWorld

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Cambodian police on Monday (Jan 3) arrested 15 workers protesting against layoffs at the country’s biggest casino run by a Hong-Kong listed firm, a union leader said.

Thousands of workers have been on strike since last month in front of Nagacorp’s hotel and casino complex in Phnom Penh, demanding the reinstatement of 365 employees who were let go in April.

The company says the strike is illegal and that it was implementing a “mutual separation plan” as part of efforts to improve cost efficiency during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chief of the workers’ union, Chhim Sithar, said workers had not been compensated properly.

“Information we received from our members is that 15 people, including a pregnant woman have been arrested,” she told Reuters.

“Up to this hour, none of workers’ demand has been solved but instead authorities have arrested unionists, activists and strikers.”

Monday’s action follows the detention of nine people on New Year’s Day. Those nine have been charged with “incitement to cause serious chaos to social security”, a court document showed.

Protesters were pulled into a police truck and taken away on Monday. Phnom Penh police spokesman San Sok Seyha couldn’t be reached for a comment immediately.

But in a statement on Saturday the municipal police said the workers’ strike was illegal and a threat to public order and safety. It said the local administration has repeatedly told the protesters to end the strike.

Despite the arrests, about 300 workers continued their protest on Monday. There was no fresh comment from the company, NagaWorld, about the workers’ demands.

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