Former bus drivers protested for eight hours outside Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation Company in the capital’s Daun Penh district yesterday before agreeing to sit for negotiations tomorrow, according to a union representative.
Prit Souoth, a legal officer at the Cambodia Labour Confederation, said that while the 17 protesters, who are former drivers sacked by the company in April, hoped to resolve the situation, past dealings with the company had created an atmosphere of doubt.
“We had many negotiations with the company, but we did not get any result [so far] and we do not really trust the company anymore because the company often makes an excuse for finishing the dispute,” Souoth said.
The labour fight began in April, when the drivers were sacked for attempting to form a union. The protesters filed suit with Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which referred the case to the Arbitration Council, which in turn ruled in the favour of the employees, calling on Sorya to reinstate 15 of them and pay two others lost wages.
Claiming there were not jobs available for the drivers, the company ignored the ruling.
Protesters said that while they planned to negotiate on Wednesday, they would come back today to demonstrate.
Sambath Vorn, president of the newly conceived union at the heart of the fracas, said yesterday that the authorities did not crack down on protesters, but the company played loud music to drown out their voices and to “disturb” them. The music got louder when he tried to read out the demands.
Sorya Transportation general manager Chan Sophanna said the company had always been open to continue talks and that the former drivers had the right to keep protesting if they wished.