The general manager of Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation bus company says he will likely reject a Friday ruling by the Arbitration Council ordering the reinstatement of 15 employees fired for trying to form a labour union.
Sorya Transportation general manager Chan Sophanna yesterday said he had not received the council’s decision, but that he would only rehire the workers if the council helped him pay their salaries.
“If I accept them back, who will help me to pay their salary? If [the Arbitration Council] helps me pay their salary, then I will agree with them,” Sophanna said. “I do business to make a profit, not lose money, so if they try to force me to accept this, I will appeal to a higher court.”
The case began in April when, according to Yem Kuyba, vice president of the newly conceived bus driver union, 17 employees were fired for trying to form a chapter at Sorya. Sophanna at the time said he fired only five drivers and that the others left on their own.
More than 60 people went on strike following the sackings, demanding reinstatements, a salary rise and several other points. Most drivers later returned to work, leaving only those who had been terminated to continue protesting.
Kuyba filed a lawsuit with Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April, which was forwarded to the Arbitration Council.
“There were 17 workers fired, whose case the Arbitration Council heard after workers protested many times with no resolution,” Kuyba said yesterday. “The council on Friday announced the company must rehire 15 workers and pay benefits according to the law to the other two.”
Unsure whether Sorya Transportation would accept the council’s decision, Kuyba said he and the other fired workers would continue fighting the dismissals.
“We will have a meeting on Tuesday to talk about [Sophanna’s] decision. I’m not yet sure whether the company will accept the ruling,” Kuyba said.
“We will sue Sorya Transportation in court and resume protests if the company declines the Arbitration Council’s decision.”