Fired Drivers Delay Protests Against Bus Company

Former drivers for the Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation company who were fired after striking for higher wages agreed to delay further protests as negotiations over their sacking reopened Tuesday.

Nearly 20 bus drivers say they were fired in April for organizing and leading strikes to demand better working conditions and a wage increase. They have been fighting to get their old jobs back ever since.

The National Arbitration Council, whose decisions are nonbinding, reviewed the case on July 4 and ruled that the company should take the drivers back. But the company ignored the decision and wrote a letter to the council formally rejecting its ruling on July 8.

Both sides met Tuesday at the offices of the company’s lawyers in Chamkar Mon district for the first time since the July 4 ruling.

“After meeting with the representatives of the company, we agreed to continue the negotiations,” said Ean Kimhun, an official from the Cambodian Labor Confederation representing the drivers.

“We will give the company a while to decide whether to accept the drivers back to work. If they still reject us, then we will continue to protest in the following weeks…. [We] will tell the national and international passengers to stop traveling with this bus company because this company is abusing the drivers’ rights.”

Chhim Chamnan, a Sorya Transportation representative, said the company needed time to consider whether to reinstate the workers.

“We agreed to their request that our company consider their requests first before replying to them on whether or not we will accept them,” he said.

Sambath Vorn, a former driver who joined the negotiations, said they would give the company until next week to make up its mind.

“We want the company to take back the former drivers who were fired,” he said. “We will protest in front of the Sorya bus station near Central Market if the company does not accept us back to work next week.”

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