More than 40 drivers for the Capitol Tours bus company went on strike Wednesday, protesting outside the company’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district to demand the reinstatement of five employees they claim were fired for trying to unionize.
Van Rang, one of the sacked drivers who was attempting to organize workers under the Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC), said that he and four others were fired on July 9 after the company became aware of their efforts.
“I think they fired me because I want to have a union at the company,” he said. “If we don’t have a union, then they will continue to do whatever they want with us and not follow the law, like not giving us holidays.”
Khiev Van, a lawyer for Capitol Tours, denied the claims.
“The company did not prevent them from creating a union. Those who were fired made many problems in the company, like sometimes they took more passengers than allowed or put things not allowed on the bus,” he said.
Mr. Van said the Ministry of Labor’s conflict resolution department would determine if the five fired workers must be reinstated, following a complaint filed by CLC.
“They filed a complaint to the Labor Ministry, so we will let them to decide on it,” he said.
The Capitol protest follows a similar string of protests last year by drivers at the Sorya Transport company, who also said they were fired for attempting to unionize under the CLC. After months of protests, some of the drivers were rehired, others were paid severance, and the drivers formed a union.
“If the Sorya company drivers can do it, we can too,” said Ban Bunthorn, one of the Capitol drivers who joined Wednesday’s protest.