Drivers Demand Overtime Wages From Tycoon’s Firm

Nearly 60 drivers employed by the Royal Cambodian Limousine Service—a subsidiary of tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal Group that transports foreign delegates and other VIPs visiting the country—have agreed to return to work today after two days of striking failed to net them unpaid overtime wages.

Chhay Buntha, one of the drivers, said he and his colleagues agreed to return to work following a meeting with the company on Tuesady during which it agreed to continue negotiations over the unpaid wages.

“The negotiations failed because the offer by the company was too little to accept, but we agreed to go back to work tomorrow and have another negotiation later,” he said.

On July 1, the Arbitration Council—an independent body that issues nonbinding decisions in labor disputes—ruled that drivers should receive back-pay for regularly working through their two-hour lunch break.

However, the drivers say they work an extra four hours per day, and are together owed about $290,000.

Yem Socheath, a driver who led a protest at the limousine services’ headquarters in Sen Sok district on Monday, said that 58 drivers had been working 12-hour shifts for three years without receiving overtime wages.

“This is illegal because, based on the law, we have to work only eight hours per day,” he said on Monday. “We want Kith Meng, who is the CEO of Royal Group, which our company is under, to respect the decision by the Arbitration Council and pay us the money.”

Mr. Socheath added that most drivers were paid between $120 and $170 per month, with some receiving up to $230. Jacob Montross, managing director of the Royal Cambodian Limousine Service, said the drivers were paid between $170 and $240.

Mr. Montross said negotiations between the company and the drivers had dragged on for about a year and that the company has appealed the Arbitration Council’s decision, as it cannot afford

to pay the drivers what they are demanding.

“The company makes a profit of less than $50,000 [per year] and the amount of payment owed would make the company bankrupt and so it is impossible,” he said, adding that the firm began paying its drivers overtime wages in January.

Mr. Socheath said the drivers on Tuesday demanded roughly $5,000 per person in unpaid wages, which was denied.

Mr. Montross said that the company could only afford to pay $400 to $500 per driver.

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