German Envoy Calls For NagaWorld Deal

German Ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger has again called on all parties to the NagaWorld labour dispute to return to the negotiating table to find a solution. Photo from Facebook page of German Embsasy in Cambodia

Compromises needed for peaceful result

PHNOM PENH--German Ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger has again called on all parties to the NagaWorld labour dispute to return to the negotiating table to find a solution.

In a statement on International Women’s Day, he said, "And for me, one more thing is clear: Negotiation can only be successful if the participation of the chosen representatives is made possible.

"And those who negotiate should not forget: to seek a compromise in good faith would be for the benefit of all stakeholders."

He cited Minister of Interior Sar Kheng who said it was a labor conflict, not a political conflict, and that as such, it should be resolved through negotiation.

The ambassador said, "I share the view of Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, who said, ‘Try to find a way to finish [the dispute] – the sooner the better. If you turn your back on each other, it will not end. If we can gently turn to face each other, maybe we can find a solution.’

“It is unfortunate that the situation for the NagaWorld employee case has deteriorated to the scene that we are seeing every day," the ambassador added.

He said all parties must follow and respect Cambodian law which explicitly allows the free expression of opinions.

That includes that the law is enforced impartially, taking all perspectives of all parties well into account, including those of the strikers and their union leaders.

Khun Tharo, a veteran advocate at local labor rights group CENTRAL said the civil society organization always respected the recommendation of the Interior Ministry, which called for negotiation. He hoped that the internal meeting of the relevant ministry and authorities would show a positive sign for the effective solution of this dispute.

“We don’t know yet what solution the internal meeting will bring,” he said.

“But I want to say that we cannot use pressure to resolve the labor dispute. If the government plays a role with effectiveness, transparency and fairness, it will benefit both sides. Using the court power, pressure and threats won’t help.”

Kheng is due to meet stakeholders on March 9 to seek a solution to the dispute.

The meeting will be led by Kheng and those attending include the Minister of Labor, Ith Sam Heng, the Minister of Justice, Keut Rith, the Minister of Health,  Mam Bun Heng, the Phnom Penh Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun, and Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng

Also there will be the President of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Taing Sunlay, Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Chreung Khmao, the Phnom Penh Police Deputy Commissioner, Sar Thet, and the Commander of the Phnom Penh Municipal Gendarmerie, Rath Sreang.

The Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld has organized and implemented a peaceful strike in Phnom Penh since Dec.18s to call for the reinstatement of 365 fired union members and leaders, and for other members who were laid off by NagaWorld in April 2021 to obtain fair severance pay according to the Cambodian Labor Law.

So far 11 union leaders and activists remain in prison, eight on charges of incitement, while three are accused of obstructing COVID-19 measures, but the arrests have done little to prevent the strike from continuing.


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