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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Australian Union Solidarity with Cambodian Raffles Workers

Posted to the IUF website 25-Jun-2004

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On June 25, the IUF's Australian affiliate organizing hotel workers, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) led a strong union protest outside Raffles' Sydney Swissotel. Union members from Sydney's leading hotels joined the rally to chants of "Shame, Raffles, Shame!" One thousand leaflets denouncing Raffles' brutal union-busting in Cambodia were distributed to passers-by. The demonstration received extensive media coverage with reports in local, national and international outlets, including Khmer-language radio broadcasts to Cambodia.

Hotel unions in Australia are increasingly confronted with the issue which initially touched off the Cambodian hotel dispute, that of management collecting tips and service fees but failing to distribute them in full to workers. The LHMU has made this a key issue in their current organizing efforts in the hotel sector. The service charge issue in Cambodia became a struggle for fundamental trade union rights when Raffles turned its back on arbitration, fired 300 union members, looted the union's office and set up compliant yellow unions with whom it "negotiated" bogus "collective agreements."

LHMU Assistant State Secretary Mark Boyd, in a letter to the Sydney Swissotel's General Manager, called on him "to raise our concerns with your Singapore-based management and to tell them that as long as the workers remain fired, Raffles/Swissotel establishments will remain a focus of our attention." Workers vowed to return to the Sydney Swissotel if Raffles refused to rehire the 300 sacked union members in Cambodia.

The rally was strengthened by the participation of a contingent of building workers from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The Sydney protest in solidarity with the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers' Federation follows on similar recent union actions in London, Bangkok, and Los Angeles, where on June 15 members of the Los Angeles local of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) leafleted the Raffles L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills. More union actions are planned.

To show your support, send a message to Raffles by clicking here!