SIEM REAP, 17 September 2020: Employees at the Le Meridien Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap called a strike to demand the hotel management reinstate three union representatives who they say were unfairly terminated last July according to a report on the news website Cambojanews.com.
The hotel is managed by the international hotel group Marriott International which owns the Le Meridien brand and has a positive record supporting workers’ rights in the US and Europe.
The three activists Doeum Chhaya, Sok Naren and Kham Sreypheak, who are members of the Le Meridien Angkor Trade Union, were terminated last July. They allegedly incited workers via Facebook to support demands for a smaller salary reduction than what was stipulated by the management in response to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Across the region, tourism and hospitality staff have seen their salaries cut by 50 to 75% since March when the Covid-19 pandemic stalled international tourism to Southeast Asia. Thousands of hotel staff have also been made redundant or on furlough without pay.
Le Meridien Angkor employees have since held demonstrations outside the provincial labour department, and the hotel has held meetings to resolve the dispute, but so far negotiations ended in a deadlock.
Le Meridien Angkor Trade Union president, Ly Linda, said workers at the hotel had resumed strike action 9 September because talks failed to reach a compromise.
“In the morning of 9 September, union representatives met with the general manager of the hotel… They asked her to allow the three union activists to go back to work, but she still did not allow it,” Linda told Cambodjanews, adding that the hotel workers would continue to strike.
Linda also alleged that the hotel employer was preparing a complaint to sue him for his role leading the strikes at the hotel.
“I appeal to the Siem Reap Provincial Governor Tea Seiha and relevant parties to help solve this so that we can go back to work,” he added.
The hotel’s general manager Sabreena Jacob issued a statement 11 September saying she stood by the decision to dismiss the three workers.
“We are disappointed with the actions of three employees who recently chose to organise multiple illegal strikes, instead of having discussions with us when invited to do so,” she said. “Despite being informed by the hotel and the governmental authorities that their actions constitute illegal activities, the three employees continued to participate in the illegal strikes.”
Jacob, who has worked for Marriott International since 2003. She was previously resident manager of JW Marriott Bangkok and before moving to Siem Reap general manager of Marriott Executive Apartments Sukhumvit Park in Bangkok.
On her LinkedIn page, she says: “I believe that people are the true assets of an organisation. Keeping them happy will ensure my guests and the owners are happy.”
Further strike action was expected to take place at the five-star hotel this week. However, a spokesperson for the hotel told TTR Weekly that “the Court passed an injunction order against the strike,15th September, and no further strike activity occurred after that date.”
This report first appeared in Cambodojanews.com a news channel that champions human rights and press freedom in Cambodia. Updated with input from the hotel management.