Majority of Fired Bus Drivers Strike a Deal

After months of protests, most of the 17 drivers who were fired by the Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation company in April have reached a settlement with the country, who sacked the drivers after they attempted to lead a strike by taking the keys to the company’s buses.

Representatives from the Cambodian Labor Confederation met with company representatives on Thursday to negotiate a deal that will rehire three of the former drivers and offer severance pay to nine drivers whose contracts will be terminated.

Five drivers are still waiting on a court decision that will determine their future with the company.

Chan Sophanna, general manager of Sorya Transportation, said the three reinstated workers cannot return to their former positions as bus drivers, and will instead be rehired as regular staff members.

“The 3 workers will not be drivers anymore because there are no more busses for them to drive,” he said, explaining that the company has sold a number of vehicles since the drivers were fired.

“I don’t think we will have problems anymore after the negotiations ended,” Mr. Sophanna said.

The 17 drivers were fired after they tried to unionize and stole bus keys as part of a strike demanding better pay and working conditions. This prompted a series of protests and counter-protests between the ex-drivers and Sorya Transportation employees, who said the protests outside the company’s central bus station in the capital were hurting business.

Kim Minea, one of the five drivers awaiting a court decision, said he would also accept his contract being terminated as long as the company pays him adequate compensation.

“For me, even if the court decides that I will not go back to work, the company has to give me enough money,” he said.

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