Eighteen Fired Bus Drivers Protest in Front of Firm’s Office

Eighteen sacked drivers for the Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation company protested in front of the company’s offices Friday morning calling for their reinstatement and a raise.

The drivers say they were fired in mid- and late-April for leading strikes—in which they walked off with the keys to their buses—before Khmer New Year calling for higher wages. The company has maintained that many left of their own accord.

Holding banners claiming that Sorya is biased against union members, the group demanded their reinstatement before being kicked out by security officers when the ticket sales office opened for business.

“I’m protesting because I want the company to solve my problem—take us back as drivers and increase our overtime and salary,” said bus driver Phon Visal.

Around 80 drivers went on strike on April 3 calling for a 50 percent increase to their $120 monthly salaries as well as a raft of benefits and permission to supplement their income by picking up unscheduled passengers along their routes. At least eight were subsequently fired, and another ten were let go in recent days.

Earlier this week, the fired drivers petitioned Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng to intervene in their dispute.

“We don’t want to protest but we have no choice because the company is not taking care of us. Please stop discriminating against the unions,” said driver Duch Sarorn.

Officials at the Labor Ministry could not be reached for comment, while representatives of Sorya repeatedly declined to comment, saying they were too busy.

“If the company won’t accept the demands of the drivers, they need to give compensation in line with the Labor Law,” said Ean Kimhun, an official at the Cambodian Labor Confederation.

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