Mam Sonando Blames Union for Protests at Beehive

The owner of an independent radio station engulfed in a bitter dispute with a number of his employees blamed the conflict on a prominent union leader on Friday.

As seven Beehive Radio employees demonstrated outside the station, the broadcaster’s owner, prominent government critic Mam Sonando, held a press conference.

Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando speaks at a press conference he called on Friday to defend his decision to dismiss two staff members. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando speaks at a press conference he called on Friday to defend his decision to dismiss two staff members. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The Cambodian Labour Confederation [CLC], which is lead by Mr. Ath Thorn, is behind the protest by my employees,” he told reporters.

Mr. Thorn confirmed the workers—10 of whom began striking last week—were members of his union.

“[Mr. Sonando] accused me of being behind the protest but I reply to him that CLC…is a union.” Mr. Thorn said. “If any workers who have a problem ask us to help, we will accept.”

About half of Beehive’s 22 staff members are unhappy that a month’s pay was withheld from four workers accused of consistently turning up late for work. Two employees have been sacked without notice or severance pay.

Sim Sarun, 24, who worked as an administrator at Beehive for three years, said he received a letter from Mr. Sonando on March 6 notifying him of his dismissal.

“I cannot accept that he fired me without severance pay and has not paid me February’s salary yet,” Mr. Sarun said.

But Mr. Sonando, who locked the radio station gates to stop the demonstrators from getting inside on Friday, was unrepentant.

“I don’t care about their protest,” he said. “I think an employee must fulfill their role.”

Mr. Sonando also pointed out that his staff only had verbal contracts.

Yet according Article 65 of the Labor Law, an employment contract can be verbal or written. The law also says that 10 days’ notice must be given when dismissing employees who have worked more than six months, and that severance pay “proportional to both the wages and the length of the contract,” must be paid when someone is sacked.

“We want Mr. Sonando to resolve [this dispute] and if he wants to fire workers, please give them their severance pay,” Mr. Thorn said.

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