NagaWorld: Covid-19 losses drove layoffs


Protest held by NagaWorld’s former staff members who claim that the company did not respect their right to unionise in the past. -FACEBOOK

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): Nagaworld has issued a statement regarding the impacts of Covid-19 on its operations in response to the recent strike by some of its employees, saying the pandemic led to US$77 million in losses and forced it to lay off thousands of workers.

In the statement on Jan 23, the integrated resort said Covid-19 has severely impacted the tourism industry worldwide and NagaWorld is no exception.

The statement said the $77 million in losses was just a temporary evaluation for the first half of 2020 and the total figure could be higher and that the unfavourable economic situation forced the company to start reducing its expenses – including payroll – for the sake of the company and its shareholders.

Among the measures that the company said it had undertaken to mitigate the financial losses was a reduction in manpower, especially those staff members whose positions had become redundant or unproductive without any customers present.

“As a result, for the sake of the affected staff, the company took action to end their contracts through the mutual termination agreement, which provides more compensation to those workers than is required by Cambodia’s labour law,” the statement read.

It noted that some workers have already been reinstated based on the company’s internal rules and on actual needs after evaluating their productivity, contributions and commitment, among other factors.

The reinstatement of those workers was not based on whether they were union activists or not, according to NagaWorld.

Additionally, it said the reinstatement of workers did not take into account whether those workers were Cambodians or foreign nationals, front-of-house or administrative staff members. Rather, the reinstatements were made without discrimination and regardless of whether the workers were union members or not.

“Actually, the company took into account the benefits, rights and health of the workers. The company has always encouraged and insisted upon its workers having the right to form a union ever since the company was born in 1995.

“In this case, about 360 workers out of the 1,329 affected rejected ending their contracts through the mutual termination agreement,” it said.

The company noted that 73 per cent of affected employees had accepted the agreement. In 2020, it had 8,381 employees and 3,976 of them, or 47 per cent, were union members. In 2021, the company had 6,181 workers with 2,572 of them in the union.

Hundreds of former NagaWorld employees have been protesting against the company for the past two months demanding that it reinstate them.

Eight of them have been arrested by the authorities and charged with carrying out an illegal protest and incitement to cause social disorder.

On Jan 24, about 200 former workers protested at the NagaWorld location demanding their reinstatement and the release of the eight arrested protest leaders who are now in pre-trial detention.

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said the eight former workers have now agreed to accept the termination of their contracts after their compensation was recalculated with assistance from the ministry’s oversight team.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on Jan 24 that he expects the number of NagaWorld workers who accept the recalculated compensation to increase in the coming days.

He said he could not reveal the exact number or names due to privacy considerations for the workers.

“The ministry will continue to play the role of mediator if workers want to end this conflict according to the procedures and on a case-by-case basis. We cannot mix them all together into one deal. But ministry officials are waiting to solve these problems at any time should they be called upon,” he said.

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