Sonando Agrees to Pay Fired Staff, But Refuses Severance

After meeting with Phnom Penh labor officials on Monday, Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando agreed to pay four employees he has now fired for shoddy attendance their salaries for February, but is still refusing their demands for severance pay.

Ten of Beehive’s 22 staff went on strike on March 6 after Mr. Sonando, who runs one of the few independent radio stations in the country, refused to pay four of them their salaries for the previous month. He said they had been showing up late for work on a regular basis. After the strike began, Mr. Sonando decided to fire them.

However, after meeting on Monday with Hong Nareth, the head of the city’s labor dispute resolution office, Mr. Sonando said he had decided to pay the four their final month’s salaries.

“I will pay the February salaries to them tomorrow because I have no choice,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to accuse me of violating the Labor Law.”

But he said he would not hire them back and that severance pay was out of the question.

“I cannot accept those employees back because they disrupted the staff. I am their employer, but they did not respect me. They did not respect the rules,” he said.

Mr. Sonando said his employees were expected to work only seven hours a day instead of the usual eight, and that the four who had been fired should consider the extra hour they were paid every day to be their severance.

Mr. Nareth confirmed that Mr. Sonando had agreed to pay the four Beehive staff their February salaries and that he would be meeting with both sides on Tuesday to try and settle the outstanding points of contention.

Yean Soveary, one of the four employees who were fired, welcomed the February pay but said it was not enough.

“We welcome this point; we should get it because we worked at the station,” she said. “But if he still refuses severance, we will continue to protest and file a complaint with the Arbitration Council.”

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