Female Strikers Hurt in NagaWorld Protest: Union

A clash between protestors and authorities near NagaWorld building. Photo: A screenshot from CENTRAL's Facebook Page video

PHNOM PENH A violent scuffle on August 11 between Phnom Penh authorities and former NagaWorld workers left three women seriously injured, one with a broken nose, and several others slightly injured.

At least 100 NagaWorld strikers clashed with authorities on Aug. 11, causing one woman to be hit in the face leaving her unconscious and bleeding from the nose.

Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld president Chhim Sithar said at least 17 female employees suffered serious to minor injuries.

Three women fainted and were taken to hospital. Several others got bruises and swollen hands and feet from being pushed and kicked by authorities.

The incident occurred when the strikers tried to move metal barricades blocking their way to the NagaWorld casino, where they wanted to hold a rally. 

Sithar said she was disappointed at the Phnom Penh authorities’ actions towards the strikers.

“Authorities often prevent workers from protesting in front of NagaWorld,” she said.  “It was not the Amazon cafe or Neak Banh Teuk where they wanted to protest, but instead it is NagaWorld company which they have a labor dispute with.”

She said placing metal barricades to restrain strikers from going to protest in front of the company was a violation of workers’ rights.

Sithar said about 100 workers were still  demanding their jobs back. More than 300 other employees working in the casino were willing to have the company terminate their contracts if the company is badly affected by COVID-19 and needs to reduce its workforce.

“It’s just a trade-off between those who volunteer to terminate the contract and those who want to work there. Why can’t the company do that?” she said.

“And not to mention whether the company is really affected by the pandemic or not? I also want to remind the public that in 2020, NagaWorld recorded $102 million in net profits.

“As for the first half of 2022, the company reported a net profit of more than $50 million. We can hardly find out if NagaWorld is really affected while this company is still very profitable,” she said.

Following the incident, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a statement calling the rally illegal and pre-planned. It accused the strikers of destroying 20 barricades, insulting and harming the reputation of authorities.

Khun Tharo, program manager at the Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said the statement was an unsubstantiated allegation that had always been repeated.

“The authorities, in particular, have never acknowledged their practice of the use of violence on the protesters, especially women,” Tharo said.

The authorities should find out who committed the violence against the strikers rather than accusing and convicting them.

“I think it is an authority’s issue because the strikers are protesting peacefully,” Tharo said.

“Using barricades and other forms of violence shows that the authorities did not promote the strikers’ rights.”

Authorities issued letters to accuse and intimidate the strikers and civil society organizations that they just simply do monitoring, give support and push for a solution.

Tharo suggested that only the willingness to compromise, the use of transparent and responsible roles of state authorities and the use of judicial principles to seek justice and ensure the interests of both concerned parties were necessary to settle the dispute.

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