Bus drivers fired from the Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation company earlier this year waged a fresh protest outside the bus station in Phnom Penh on Monday, calling on passengers to boycott the service until they are rehired or given proper compensation.
The 17 drivers were sacked in April after they tried to form a union and took bus keys as part of a strike demanding better wages and working conditions.
The Arbitration Council on July 4, after reviewing the case, said the company should reinstate the workers. The company rejected the nonbinding ruling four days later and countered Monday’s protest by renting two loudspeakers to drown out the protest noise.
“The reason that we came to protest in front of the bus station today is because the company did not accept the 17 former drivers back to work,” said former driver and Cambodian Labor Confederation organizer Yim Kuyba.
“We want them to stop discriminating against unions, too. We don’t want to stand under the sun to protest and annoy passengers, but this company has violated its employees’ labor law rights.”
He said the drivers—who all wore their old work uniforms—would stop protesting if they could have their old jobs back.
As the men stood with signs calling for compensation and for passengers to boycott the routes, the announcements for departures from the station were drowned out by the music the company was blaring to counteract the protesters.
French tourist Chloe Journet, who was waiting for a bus to Kratie, said she would have made alternative plans had she known about the dispute.
“I think perhaps we would have gone another day with another bus to Kratie,” she said. “But the tickets were expensive, and we had already bought them from the hotel.”
Negotiations are set to resume on Wednesday between the drivers and Sorya Transportation.
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)