Cambodia’s NagaWorld Workers Plan to Strike on Saturday

Posted on: December 16, 2021, 06:39h. 

Last updated on: December 16, 2021, 10:14h.

Employees at NagaWorld in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, plan to strike, as ongoing differences with the casino resort’s management have reached a breaking point. This is the same company that, only a week ago, was singled out for its commitments to social and community engagement.

A view of NagaWorld’s gaming floor. Soon, it may not look as busy, with workers planning to go on strike starting Saturday. (Image: The Bangkok Post)

A representative from the Cambodian labor union recently told GGRAsia NagaWorld about the strike.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 employees are expected to participate. Around 30% of those are no longer with the company.

A catalyst for the strike was the firing of those employees. This past May, the property let go about 1,300 employees while simultaneously reducing severance pay and regular pay for certain workers.

The move didn’t sit well with the union or its employees, and friction has been building ever since.

Friction Remains as NagaWorld Tries to Recover

Employees have been trying to get NagaWorld to reverse its decision and bring back the employees, or at least improve the severance packages that were offered since the announcement was made.

However, those requests have fallen on deaf ears.

The union, Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld, was approached by the Cambodian Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MLVT) this week. It was asked to remove some of the demands it has made and to call off the strike. The union isn’t budging.

The union previously met with representatives of the company and the MLVT several times over the past few months. Each time, the result was the same – the company wasn’t willing to give in to the demands.

Revenue Suffers from COVID, Suncity Debacle

NagaCorp, which operates the casino, has been battling the impact of COVID-19. Repeated shutdowns have caused its properties to suffer.

The company reported a US$77.2-million loss for the first six months of the year. But it recorded positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of US$17.7 million for the period.

NagaWorld reopened in September after having been closed since March. At the time, it severed its relationship with Suncity Group. That was well ahead of the recent debacle involving the company and former CEO Alvin Chau.

The decision may have been prudent for NagaWorld. But NagaCorp still relied on the junket operator in other areas.

According to analysts with Morgan Stanley, the company, along with Wynn Macau, could see the “biggest impact” as Suncity shrinks. The analysts estimate that around 25% of NagaCorp’s EBITDA in 2019 came from Chinese VIP gamblers.

NagaWorld Highlighted

While NagaWorld has been feuding with its employees in one court, it has apparently been an outstanding corporate citizen in another.

The company said a week ago in a press release that it had received two awards at the Social Caring Pledge Awards (SCP Awards) 2021. The awards program is organized each year by the Social Enterprise Research Academy in Hong Kong.

The company received the awards because of its “extensive range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.” Those initiatives reportedly benefit marginalized communities in Cambodia.

NagaWorld established the NagaWorld Kind Hearts arm for that purpose, developing programs on ” Education Enhancement, Community Engagement, Sports Development and Environment Care.”

NagaWorld received the Outstanding Social Caring Organisation Award and the Social Caring Award for Green Excellence.