The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on June 27 again instructed current and former NagaWorld employees not to use public roads for demonstrations, citing public order and legal concerns.
This comes after reports that at least 10 people were injured earlier that day when security forces violently broke up a protest by workers involved in labour disputes with the integrated casino resort, which have lingered since mid-December.
The protesters argue that they are merely exercising their rights to push the company for mutually agreeable resolutions to the disputes.
The administration noted in a statement that more than 70 past and present employees “illegally” gathered in the protest on June 27, in the middle of Samdech Sothearos Boulevard, along the stretch from Aeon Mall 1 to the intersection with Preah Sihanouk Boulevard.
It remarked that unlike in prior strikes, demonstrators that day wore blue bandanas around their heads donning a usual slogan “Do not use money to buy rights”, in an act it accused was planned in advance by “a handful of people to cause trouble for the authorities”.
"They disrupted public order, leading to violence against the police, leaving some officials with mild injuries and resulting in the loss of five walkie-talkies and a watch," the statement said.
The administration said it has issued a number of statements banning the protesters from gathering in public spaces, advising them instead to obtain permits from municipal hall and move the demonstrations to Freedom Park in northeastern Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, following the procedures set out in the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.
The statement stressed that the administration has also resorted to a variety of “educational measures” to prevent protesters from engaging in “further illegal activities”.
One of the protesters said on condition of anonymity that union rights in the workplace and resolution for “unfairly” terminated workers were among the strike’s demands.
"I will continue to strike until there there’s been a resolution because we Cambodians have the right to express ourselves. But why do we, as NagaWorld employees, have no right to express our opinions, even while on strike at NagaWorld, and worse still, authorities shut down our rights and accuse us of blocking public streets?" she said.
The Post could not reach Chhim Sithar, president of Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU), for comment on June 28.
However, a statement issued by the LRSU on the June 24 questioned rhetorically why the municipal hall was the one obstructing and threatening in a labour dispute between a company and its employees.
The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has hosted 14 meetings between NagaWorld and worker representatives to settle the months-long labour dispute, each ending in a stalemate, with both sides failing to reach a compromise.
The protesters are demanding that NagaWorld reinstate nearly 200 laid-off workers, who the company insists there is no longer need for.