Thousands on strike over pay at Cambodian casino NagaWorld

In a file photo taken on Oct 24, 2017, a taxi driver sleeps near the NagaWorld casino complex in Phnom Penh. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Thousands of Cambodians working for a Hong Kong-listed casino company have gone on strike for higher pay and better working conditions, they said on Thursday (Jan 9).

About 3,000 workers joined the strike in front of the NagaWorld hotel and casino complex, owned by Nagacorp, in Phnom Penh to demand higher pay of US$300 (S$405) a month for hotel staff and US$500 a month for those on the gambling floor.

NagaWorld did not respond to requests for comment.

The striking workers said wages now start at US$150 to US$250 a month.

They are also seeking the reinstatement of their union president, Chhim Sithar, who was suspended in September.

One of the strikers, By Kunthea, who has been working at the casino for 19 years, said the company had warned employees in a memo they would be fired if they went on strike.

"We demand a raise for workers ... we need to pay rent and food prices nowadays have also gone up," By Kunthea said.

"The company makes a lot of profits."

Card dealer Chan Maiya Mouy complained of poor working conditions including abusive behaviour.

"We can't go to the toilet if there is no one to fill in for us," Chan Maiya Mouy said. "When gamblers lose, they curse us and throw water bottles at us." NagaCorp, which has the exclusive license to operate in Phnom Penh, reported an estimated US$1.8 billion in revenue last year, up from US$1.5 billion in 2018.

It posted a 9-month net gaming revenue of US$616.3 million last year.

Khiev Savuth, deputy director of Labour Ministry's labour dispute department, could not be reached for comment.

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