The union leader at the center of the ongoing strike at the NagaWorld resort was arrested again at Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday, November 26, raising further questions about how the dispute between the casino and some of its workers will be resolved. be addressed by the courts.
On November 26, Cambodian police arrested prominent union leader Chhim Sithar, who led a year-long strike outside the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh’s capital. According to a statement from Licadho, a local human rights group, the unionist was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport after returning from Australia, where she attended a 12-day union conference. The fate of Chhim Sithar epitomizes the Cambodian government’s hostile attitude toward union organizations. The NagaWorld strikes began; Chhim Sithar, the leader of the Labor Rights Supported Khmer Employees Union (LRSU), was arrested and spent 74 days in pre-trial detention on counts of “incitement to commit a serious crime.” Licadho said she was arrested again this week for violating bail conditions set after her release in March.
Violation of Travel Restrictions
The leader of the Labor Rights Supported Union (LRSU) of Khmer workers at NagaWorld’s integrated casino resort, Chhim Sithar, was arrested at the airport on arrival from a 12-day trip to Australia, the Phnom Penh Post reported. According to a court order from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Sithar was arrested and remanded in custody for leaving the country without authorization under judicial supervision. The union leader was arrested along with other union leaders in January this year for allegedly inciting social chaos during the strike but was released on bail in March. Sitar’s re-arrest irritated LICADHO Deputy Director Am Sam Ath, who claimed she and her lawyers were not informed
that they were under surveillance or restrictions. To travel and that a defender from the human rights group and Sithar’s lawyers would meet her in prison today. “The arrest of Chhim Sithar again poses a new threat and intimidation to the union in NagaWworld,” he said, calling the actions an intimidation tactic against NagaWorld employees and former employees who are still on strike and fighting for a fair solution.
Sam Ath also suggested that instead of arresting the union leader to demonstrate judicial power, the best approach would have been to find a solution to the dispute. He insisted that Sithar’s arrest constituted an unfair restriction of civil society space. And freedom of association, which hinders fundamental public liberties.
Employment Dispute Continues
Employees at the integrated casino resort NagaWorld went on strike last year, demanding the casino operator reinstate employees it fired in April, claiming they were fired because of their union connections. Most employees laid off are LRSU members, but NagaCorp argued that the layoffs were due to the pandemic’s impact on business. The ongoing dispute over Cambodia’s integrated casino resort will turn a year old next month. Meanwhile, the Department for Labor and Training said in a press release that five other spa workers had asked the Home Secretary to intervene, secure their seniority payments, and
terminate their contracts with NagaCorp so they could seek alternative employment. The National Employment Agency (NEA) has signaled its intention to support former resort staff in their search for new jobs.