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NagaWorld Protests Finally Attract Senior Officials’ Attention

The ongoing NagaWorld casino workers protest in Cambodia has finally attracted the government’s attention, reported The Phnom Penh Post, stating the country’s Minister of Interior Sar Kheng decided to bring up the subject in a meeting with other government ministers.

Government Officials to Discuss the Protests

The Minister of Interior will host the meeting following a letter sent by Phnom Penh municipal deputy governor Keut Chhe to senior government officials in an attempt to find a solution to the issue behind the protests outside of the NagaWorld casino integrated resort, according to the report in the news outlet.

The peaceful protests erupted in December last year when former employees of NagaCorp who believe to have been unlawfully laid off in April during the pandemic insisted to be reinstated. Most of those 365 workers are members of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees (LRSU) of NagaWorld trade union.

In January, 11 protesters were arrested on charges with incitement to commit a felony and another 17 detained for questioning in relation to the protests. Following the arrests, Cambodian authorities accused a group of NagaWorld workers of being part of a conspiracy.

Evidence of Conspiracy

According to senior police officials and representatives of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, there was evidence “such as computers, smartphones and other materials used to organize the protests” suggesting that the leaders of the protest had been financially motivated by organized groups from within and outside of the country, giving them tens of thousands of dollars to organize the protest.

NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp, released a statement in response to the demands of the protestors, stating that 73% of those affected by the layoffs had accepted a Mutual Separation Plan.

The casino operator also denied allegations it had used the pandemic as an excuse to reduce the union’s representation, justifying employee layoffs with cost-cutting measures due to the impact of the pandemic.

The latest effort to find a solution to the impasse followed threats issued by the municipal administration, which stated it would sanction protesters between $250 and $1,250 for breaching health orders.

Threats of financial sanctions did not stop people from continuing to demand the reinstatement of all 365 employees.