The Grand Diamond City Casino, which recently fired two staffers in the wake of labour condition complaints, yesterday issued a public letter in defence of the terminations in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet city.
The casino had fired two employees over the past couple of months; the first, Bun Sothy, was fired in the wake of organising a union and filing a petition to the provincial labour department over abusive work conditions; the second, Om Chhayya, was fired last week after complaining of the abusive conditions in a radio interview.
Yesterday, the casino issued a public letter defending the terminations, arguing that the interview given by Mr Chhayya to the radio station, in which he complained of 12-hour work shifts contrary to the Labour Law and no bonuses for time worked on national holidays, was tantamount to defamation and had affected the company’s reputation.
Doung Phang, a representative of the casino, said in the letter that the accusations levelled against the casino were not true and noted that employees are prohibited from talking with the media without permission.
“The company recognises the rights and freedoms of unions, but the company also expects the legitimate rights of the company to be respected and protected because the information provided in the interview was false and affected the company’s reputation,” Ms Phang said in the letter.
Reached by phone yesterday, Mr Chhayya remained defiant.
“I cannot accept the explanation given by the company for my termination,” he said. “I was a union rep at the casino and had the right to raise concerns over labour abuses.”
The petition filed with the provincial labour department never led to an investigation at the casino because it did not have signatures from 30 percent of workers, according to Ros Sarum, director of the department.
Toun Saren, a secretary with the Collective Union of Movement of Workers which has been aiding casino staffers, said that at least 30 percent of staffers at the casino support an investigation being launched, but were too scared to sign the petition out of fear of losing their jobs.
“I think that more than 30 percent of workers would sign a petition letter to the labour department if they did not work under duress,” he said. “But they are afraid of losing their jobs if they dare to speak out like Mr Chhayya.”
Mr Saren added that the labour abuse issues raised by Mr Chhayya did not only affect him, but all workers at the casino.
“It is unfair for him. He talked about all workers’ problems, not only his, and he suffered by losing his job over it,” Mr Saren said.
Mr Sarum, the labour department director, said he has not received a second petition with 30 percent of employee signatures.
“This looks like a dispute between the company and one person,” he said. “The company is a business and aims to earn money, so if someone is defaming it and affecting its earnings, it has the right to terminate the employee.”
“But nonetheless, the labour department will be keeping an eye on this case to determine if proper procedures and laws are followed,” he added.