Connect with us


Why casino workers are on strike in Cambodia – and how to help

UPDATE (Feb. 7, 2022) — Members of the Seattle chapter of APALA participated in the Feb. 7 Global Day of Action by rallying and delivering a letter of support for LRSU and NagaWorld workers to the Consulate of Cambodia in Seattle. In addition to APALA Seattle, among the organizations represented were at the rally were LELO, MLK Labor, UNITE HERE 8, SEIU1199NW, LCLAA, Solidarity Center and the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.



(Feb. 3, 2022) — Nearly every business in the world has been affected by COVID-19. Undoubtedly, it has been a difficult time to navigate successful operations. However, when a multi-million dollar company unilaterally terminates 1,329 workers — and nearly 1,100 of them are union leaders, members, and activists — this is not a means of adjusting payroll, it’s an atrocious act of union busting.

This is what one of the most successful casinos in the world, NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, committed against the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) in April 2021. Despite LRSU’s attempts to collectively bargain to find a solution for all sides, these efforts were rebuffed and the dispute remains unresolved.

As a result of NagaWorld’s refusal to negotiate in good faith, LRSU began a peaceful strike on Dec. 18, which was immediately declared illegal — despite following all required protocols. Events escalated with 29 workers arrested between Dec. 31, 2021 and Jan. 4, 2022, including LRSU president, Chhim Sithar, who was put in a headlock by plainclothes police and violently forced into a car. Nine workers have been charged, with one on bail and eight still in detention.

The arrests and undue interference of the authorities in the LRSU peaceful assembly is a violation of basic human, labor, and union rights. Protected under ILO Convention No.87 on Freedom of Association, strike and labor protests are legitimate rights and essential means for workers to defend their economic and social interests.

LRSU has three primary demands, that:

1. The eight jailed unionists are released and all charges against them dropped;
2. The 365 workers are reinstated; and
3. NagaWorld negotiates in good faith with the union. LRSU, however, will not agree to negotiations with the company until all individuals are released.

TAKE A STAND — In solidarity with the LRSU worker struggle, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) is organizing a national campaign to call on NagaCorp and the Government of Cambodia to meet LRSU’s demands. The solidarity actions kicked off Wednesday with a virtual webinar featuring LRSU activists to raise awareness and mobilize action. Monday, Feb. 7 is a Global Day of Action at various Cambodian diplomatic missions around the world. Locally in Seattle, APALA is organizing an in-person rally and letter drop off at the Consulate of Cambodia, 1818 Westlake Ave. N. #315, at 2 p.m. Please wear blue! RSVP with the Seattle APALA chapter at

You can support by signing this petition to release jailed union leaders and drop all charges unconditionally.

About 60 NagaWorld workers at a Jan. 28 press conference at Sunway Hotel Phnom Penh.

LRSU is admired by Cambodia’s labor movement and is well respected in the international community as a representative and democratic union with a history of members winning struggles for better pay and conditions.

“Many of our local chapter members are hospitality workers just like our Cambodian labor siblings,” said Eunice How, APALA Seattle chapter president and APALA National Executive Board member. “The hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and there can be no equitable economic recovery without workers leading the way. We reject using the pandemic as an excuse to bust the union. Solidarity with LRSU across the ocean!”

Follow #LaborRightsKH for more info and updates.


Polly Woodbury, MSW/MPH in Global Health, is a Research Assistant at the University of Washington and a member of APALA’s Seattle chapter. The daughter of a Khmer Rouge survivor, her thesis research examined occupational health and safety concerns and priorities of low-wage workers in Cambodia.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!