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Bail sought for protest trio to push mediation with NagaWorld

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NagaWorld employees protest in Chamkarmon district on December 21. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Bail sought for protest trio to push mediation with NagaWorld

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced that it has sought intervention from other ministries to allow three protesters to be released on bail so as to attend negotiations, in fresh efforts to reach a solution in the ongoing labour dispute between former NagaWorld employees and company management.

The latest effort was a meeting with both sides on the afternoon of March 16 to continue the discussion, the labour ministry said.

“At the request of three former employees detained on the charge of breaching [health] safety regulations, the ministry has sent a request to the health and justice ministries to review and lend support in releasing them in accordance with the legal process,” it noted in a press release on March 15.

The statement said the Covid-19 pandemic had severely impacted the tourism industry, prompting the integrated resort to downsize its staff by approximately 25 per cent to just over 6,000 employees. It noted that 42 of those employed were members of trade unions.

On March 14, eight of the 11 charged NagaWorld protesters were released on bail. The labour ministry said the eight had written a letter to the ministry seeking bail release. It subsequently communicated the request to the justice ministry, which referred it to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, leading to their release.

Neither the protesters nor NagaWorld representatives could be reached for comment.

The NagaWorld labour dispute was also a topic of discussion between interior minister Sar Kheng and UN special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia Vitit Muntarbhorn on March 15, according to a Facebook post on the former’s official page.

During their meeting, Sar Kheng told Vitit that he will push for more negotiation between the former employees and NagaWorld so that the conflict can end soon. The minister added that he has always encouraged Nagaworld staffers who have been protesting since mid-December to negotiate with management to find a solution.

“Now, some of them have been released on bail to continue their negotiations to seek a solution with facilitation from the labour ministry. Samdech [Sar Kheng] still urges further negotiation to end the dispute,” the post said.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL) who has closely followed the case, said the way to a solution is to put the past aside and release on bail all the unionist protesters who had been arrested, after which all parties should get together to solve the remaining dispute.

“I would like to see a negotiation between NagaWorld and the protesters. The negotiation should be fair, with no side able to put pressure on the other. Also, the charges against those who remain in jail should be dropped and both sides should come to a negotiation,” he said.

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