NagaWorld Workers Strike in Cambodia Supported by Coca-Cola, Chevron Employees

Posted on: January 27, 2022, 12:13h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2022, 01:22h.

The saga surrounding a workers’ strike at the NagaWorld casino resort in Cambodia last month is far from over. Support for workers jailed after the strike is coming from union employees at Coca-Cola, Chevron and more.

NagaWorld Employees
NagaWorld Employees continue to protest the firing of other employees from last year. They sat in a peaceful demonstration on January 21 to show their support. (Image: VOD English)

A workers’ strike at Cambodia’s NagaWorld that began in December has been, for the most part, mundane. The events after the strike have been the complete opposite. Some of the union leaders who played a role in the strike were sent to jail. Even the United Nations (UN) decried the police action that followed.

A month after the strike, the fallout is still resonating in Cambodia. It’s also reaching other countries, such as Malaysia. Union workers at Cambodia Beverage Company, which produces Coca-Cola products, and at plants belonging to multinational fuel supplier Chevron have begun to voice their opposition to the treatment.

They, along with others, have banded together with the NagaWorld employees. They have started to participate in the public protests along with them.

This is a social disease and it spreads into our system and needs to be treated,” said Yoeun Reth, the union president for workers at Chevron’s plant in Phnom Penh.

The protests outside NagaWorld continue, with around 2,000 fighting for change. If there was a chance the strike would have been short-lived, that was removed following the arrests of the union leaders and workers. The protestors are now driven to continue as a result of the incarcerations, which the UN has asserted could be human rights violations.

Malaysia Workers, Others Show Support

The Labor Law Reform Coalition in Malaysia has started to increase its support for Cambodian workers. The group has sent a letter to the Cambodian embassy in an attempt to voice its concerns over the situation.

That letter never made it, however. The embassy refused to accept it, according to the media outlet Union of Catholic Asian News.

The US embassy in Cambodia has spoken up as well. It raised concerns over the police response to those participating in a “peaceful expression.” It is attempting to pressure authorities to “hear citizens, not silence them,” adding, “Freedoms of speech, assembly and association are guaranteed in the Cambodian constitution.”

NagaWorld Denies Targeting Union Employees During Layoffs

When NagaWorld made staffing and other cuts last year, it did so by targeting union employees. That has been the allegation of the protestors since then. However, the resort’s executives deny the allegations.

The Khmer Times published a statement that the decision to terminate employees came from “internal rules of the company, based on business needs, past productivity, contribution and commitments, and others, regardless of the unionized or nonunionized staff.”

It added that after the layoffs, the union membership had decreased only a little, going from 47% to 42% of the entire workforce. However, according to the International Trade Union Confederation, 1,100 of the 1,329 employees let go were members of the union.

The company said that union membership was not a factor in the layoffs, as the union claims. It also stated that NagaWorld, since it opened in 1995, has encouraged employees to form unions every year.