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The grounds of the Dusit Thani, one of the resorts at Laguna Phuket

Phuket Pay Protest Blocks Laguna Entrance

Thursday, February 5, 2009
Update February 6: Laguna management has released a statement; see text below

AN ''ASSEMBLY'' of up to 300 staff at Laguna Phuket blocked access to Phuket's largest resort complex tonight in a dispute over salary bonuses.

Phuketwan learned of the protest this evening from an island expat resident who was escorting a family from Europe to stay at Laguna Beach Resort for 12 days.

The family was forced to leave the car at the main gate in Chern Talay and walk to their resort.

The dispute is believed to revolve around the lack of a bonus which usually appears in the pay of staff in January and also becomes the basis for calculating increases.

Efforts to settle the dispute by negotiations involving the Chief of Phuket Provincal Office of Labor Protection and Welfare, Anuchon Varinsathien, failed.

It is understood that the ''assembly'' began in a low-key fashion this afternoon and grew in scale.

Some reports said that all entrances to the resort were blocked, but Phuketwan was unable to confirm this.

A union representative we tried to contact was ''too busy'' to take the call.

A spokesperson for Laguna Phuket said that negotiations over pay had been going on for some weeks but management and the union had not been able to reach agreement.

It is known that Laguna Phuket has been taking a conservative approach to all spending in an effort to preserve jobs for as long as possible.

All resorts on Phuket face uncertainty from March because the world economic crisis has reduced forward bookings.

Phuketwan has reported that all indications point to a prolonged downturn in tourist numbers on the island. Experts have forecast many jobs disappearing in tourism.

As the biggest private employer on the island, Laguna Phuket has a total of about 3500 staff. Not all are union members.

The resort provides a pleasant parkland setting on Bang Tao beach for the Laguna Beach Resort, the Dusit Thani Resort, the Sheraton Grande Laguna, the Banyan Tree, the Allamanda and the Laguna Holiday Club.

A seventh resort is planned. The Laguna precinct and the surrounding area is also home to a successful Laguna Property development arm.

Statement from Laguna Resorts & Hotels Plc, February 6

"Laguna Resorts & Hotels Plc reports a labour dispute between the Company and the Laguna Phuket hotel unions. Although the Company has worked towards a resolution with union representatives, this disagreement has unfortunately culminated with an assembly of approximately 150 to 200 associates, which represent only 5% of the total associates, who have abandoned their duties to support the union's cause by blockading public road access into Laguna Phuket, thereby preventing arrivals and departures by guests, associates and residents.

"The demonstrators began assembling during the afternoon of Thursday 5 February 2009 within the Laguna Phuket precinct and blockades were formed overnight. The hotels and business units at Laguna Phuket are experiencing disruptions to operations and the management are gravely concerned about the impact this action will have on Phuket's already declining tourism business.

"Laguna Resorts & Hotels advises that the Phuket authorities are fully aware of the situation and that the Company has requested their full assistance to resolve the situation in a timely manner. Laguna Resorts & Hotels sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience caused to patrons and associates during this action."

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Friday February 23, 2024
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