Eighteen fired bus drivers protesting for reinstatement at Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation were met Monday by company staff who staged a counter-protest demanding that the fired drivers stop interrupting their work.
The drivers, who claim they were fired earlier this month for trying to form a union, have protested for reinstatement and better conditions a number of times this month, but yesterday were met by a wall of about 40 former colleagues.
“This is the first time that I have joined the protest,” said Pov Poeun, a 30-year-old ticket seller who had grown weary of the fired drivers’ demonstrations.
“I am protesting against the former bus drivers, and if they keep protesting, they will only lose more money for their families.”
The two sides stood across the road from each other hurling insults through loudspeakers from 8 a.m. to midday, when the sacked drivers left for lunch.
Contacted later in the day, Phan Sophal, operations manager of Phnom Penh Sorya Transportion, said the continued disturbance at the bus station in central Phnom Penh is costing the firm money.
He also said that the 18 would not be rehired as long as they continued their union activity.
“Since the strike on April 3, the company has lost tens of thousands of dollars,” Mr. Sophal said.
“We cannot take those workers back. They always strike, protest and make problems to our company. We are not discriminating against unions, but we don’t want unions in our company.”
Ean Kimhun, an official with the Cambodian Labor Federation, which represents the sacked drivers, insisted that Sorya bosses had orchestrated the counter-protest.
“I think that the company illegally forced the staff to protest,” Mr. Kimhun said. “They are using those people to show they have more people supporting them than support the strikes in order to shape public opinion.”
Sambath Vorn, one of the 18 drivers, said the drivers would resume their curbside protest again today. “We will come here to protest again tomorrow because there are lots of people in the area and that is our only chance of getting a resolution.”