NagaWorld workers in Cambodia protest mass staff layoffs

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
NagaWorld workers in Cambodia protest mass staff layoffs

Workers at the largest casino in Cambodia, NagaWorld, have taken to the streets to protest mass layoffs at the venue.

Nikkei Asia reports that NagaWorld plans to lay off more than 1,300 of its 8,000 employees, with unions calling for the government to stop the plan.

Representatives of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld delivered a petition signed by more than 2,000 members to the Labor Ministry requesting that officials intervene.

The union said that the company is using COVID-19 as an excuse to target their leadership and members.

Union president Chhim Sithar is among those who have been given notice of termination, along with the group’s vice president, secretary and treasurer.

Sithar called the company’s plan “a clear attack” on the union, saying a similar thing happened after the global financial crisis.

“There is a clear pattern,” she said.

“Among the 1,300 workers being fired, around 1,100 are union members.”

The union has more than 3,700 members.

500 employees reject NagaWorld’s termination offers

Sithar said about 500 employees who had been given notice had rejected their termination offers, while the rest accepted.

She said workers who had already suffered pay cuts during the pandemic were under a lot of economic pressure and called the layoffs “irresponsible and inhumane”.

The company recorded $102 million in net profit in 2020 despite plummeting tourism in Cambodia and a three month state enforced shutdown from April.

It has exclusive rights to gambling facilities in the Cambodian capital.

Parent company NagaCorp, which is majority owned by Malaysian billionaire Chen Lip Keong did not respond to requests for comment.

The company’s gaming complex in Phnom Penh remains closed since being shut for a second time in early March due to a nationwide outbreak of COVID-19 that has resulted in more than 34,000 coronavirus cases since February.

Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp addressed the planned layoffs in an announcement to shareholders, which dealat the possibility of issuing new debt.

The company called the firings “a rationalisation program to improve cost efficiency.”

It said affected employees would receive “enhanced termination compensation over and above payments required by applicable Cambodian laws”.

“We believe that these changes and other changes we have made as part of our COVID-19 strategy will help with the quick return to business normality and help deliver continued financial stability over the long term,” the company told shareholders.

Ministry of Labor spokesman Heng Sour said that authorities would review the union’s complaint.

NagaCorp to issue notes valued at US$200 million

NagaCorp plans to issue an additional 7.95 per cent in senior notes valued at about US$200 million, which will mature on July 6, 2024.

The new notes are being consolidated as part of the same series as the US$350 million notes that were issued in 2020.

The company said it was “pleased with the successful pricing” of the additional notes and the “positive response” it had received from investors.

The company said the new note offering was to “raise additional capital to strengthen the group’s working capital and for other general corporate purposes.”

The offer price of the additional notes will be 103.608 per cent of the principal amount, plus accrued interest from January 6, 2021, added the firm.

It said it expected the net proceeds from the exercise, after deduction of fees, commissions and expenses, to amount to nearly US$211.6 million.

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