Protesting ex-employees of the Capitol Tours bus company clashed with tuk-tuk drivers outside the firm’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on Tuesday as the protesters attempted to dissuade passengers from using the service over what they argue was their unlawful dismissal.
Five Capitol drivers were sacked in July, leading dozens of their colleagues to go on strike in an effort to have them reinstated. In November, 35 more drivers were fired amid attempts to unionize. Last month, the Arbitration Council ruled that just three of the 40 drivers deserved their jobs back.
Ean Kim Hun, secretary-general of the Cambodia Transportation Workers Federation, said on Tuesday that about 50 tuk-tuk drivers affiliated with the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association, an association of tuk-tuk drivers, attempted to block the protesters as they approached the Capital Tours head office on Tuesday morning to speak with passengers.
“In the morning, we carried on our normal protest, and at about 8 a.m., we walked across the street to the bus stop to tell our story, but about 50 of the tuk-tuk drivers came and blocked us in the middle of the street,” Mr. Kim Hun said.
“When we tried to get into the company [building], the tuk-tuk drivers pushed and some hit us in the face or body before the district police came to break the sides up,” he said.
A similar fracas between the Capitol drivers and the same group of tuk-tuk drivers erupted outside the company’s headquarters in July as the first wave of protests over the dismissals began. Mr. Kim Hun accused the tuk-tuk association of taking money from the company to protect the premises.
“They must be hired by the company to stop us. We always see them together,” he said.
However, a tuk-tuk driver who was involved in the clash and gave his name only as Sopheak denied the accusation. He said the drivers were simply angry because the protesters were hurting their business.
“I didn’t get any money from Capitol to stop them; I just need to earn money every day from passengers when they leave the bus here,” he said.