Sorya Drivers Called to Court Over Intimidation, Defamation

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned two former Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation bus drivers for questioning Tuesday after the court received a complaint from the bus company accusing the drivers of intimidation and defamation.

The drivers, Yim Kuyba and Phon Visal, were asked to appear in court on Friday, according to Mr. Kuyba.

“The company has filed a complaint against us for intimidation, defamation” and temporarily taking the company’s buses during a strike, said Mr. Kuyba.

Mr. Kuyba and Mr. Visal are part of a group of 18 former drivers who claim they were fired in April for striking for higher wages and forming a union. Since being sacked, the former drivers have staged a number of protests at Sorya’s bus station near Central Market demanding reinstatement or compensation in accordance with the Labor Law.

During their initial strike on April 3, prior to being fired, the drivers took keys to the company’s buses as ransom.

“I believe that the general manager of the company had the intention to stop us from protesting and demanding better wages with the trade union and the company,” said Mr. Kuyba. “I cannot go to court on May 9. I will submit a letter to delay the appointment.”

Chan Sophanna, general manager of Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation, said he filed the court complaint after the two men allegedly threatened to fight with staff who didn’t join their strikes last week.

“I had to file a complaint because those two drivers took company uniforms to use during a demonstration and threatened other staff to join the protest,” he said. “The company could not accept what they did.”

Ean Kimhun, an official with the Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC), which has helped the drivers organize into a union, said he has instructed CLC’s lawyer to draft a letter requesting to delay the drivers’ court appearances.

“Today, we gave our lawyer a letter to delay the court summons and wait until after we meet with the arbitration council tomorrow,” he said.

“We believe that the company is afraid of our protesting and is threatening the drivers to stop protesting.”

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