NagaCorp faces union backlash over dismissal, wage dispute

Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp is under fire from labor rights groups after dismissing a union leader amid an ongoing wage dispute, Nikkei Asian Review reports. 

The union has been petitioning for a pay hike amongst hotel and gaming staff. It has requested base salary in the hotel department, who currently make between $191 and $230 a month, be raised to $300, while staff  in the gaming section, who are paid between $230 and $370, to increase to $500 a month. 

However, the situation was further strained after union president Chhim Sithar was dismissed last month.

Sithar printed and distributed T-shirts with a slogan in Khmer that translates to “The Company is growing; workers need living wages.”

She was suspended after stepping in when guards tried to confiscate a T-shirt from an employee, a decision that sparked a joint statement by 24 unions and civil society groups that condemned the suspension. 

The unions said the decision contravened Cambodia’s labor law by suspending her “without just cause”, and that she was exercising her fundamental rights as a union leader. 

Sithar told Nikkei Asian Review that the company’s wage rises have not kept up with the workers’ cost of living. She said that employees also want to work on public holidays to be voluntary. 

“When you earn a lot and pay your workers less, this is called exploitation,” said Sithar.

The union plans to seek a resolution at the country’s Arbitration Council, but said they are prepared to strike if that avenue falls through.