Bus Drivers Fired After Wage Strikes

At least eight bus drivers from Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation company were fired last week for leading a strike before Khmer New Year to demand higher wages, employees and union representatives said Sunday.

About 80 drivers went on strike on April 3 demanding a $60 increase to their $120 monthly wages, numerous additional benefits and a change in policy that would permit them to pick up unscheduled cash-paying passengers along bus routes to boost their income.

Nine drivers were subsequently fired for having joined the Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC) and participated in the day of industrial action, according to Sambath Vorn, who was head of the drivers’ union at the company until he was dismissed along with seven others on April 10 and 11.

“We were fired because we joined the union then joined the strike,” he said.

Chhet Penh, Khun Saony and Yim Kuyba—who along with Mr. Vorn represented the union leadership—were fired alongside four union members, while one representative, Seng Inleng, decided to leave the union in order to keep his job.

“Other drivers have been threatened that if they don’t leave the union, they will be fired too,” Mr. Vorn said.

More than 40 drivers held a second strike on Thursday and Friday to protest the sackings, Mr. Vorn said, adding that union members will submit a petition today to the Ministry of Labor claiming unfair dismissal.

Chan Sophanna, general manager of Sorya Transportation, confirmed that eight drivers had left the company, but claimed only four were dismissed, while the other four left of their own accord.

“We invited the employees to resolve their differences with the company a few times, but they did not take the offer, but [the company] has acted in accordance with the Cambodian Labor Law,” he said.

A reduction in the number of drivers at the company has occurred due to the need to cut costs, and is not related to the strike action or unionizing, Mr. Sophanna added.

“If we wanted to fire them because of [striking] we would have fired many more employees,” he said.

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