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Protesting bus drivers ordered to halt strike

Protesting tour bus drivers were ordered by the Arbitration Council to end a one-week strike and return to work today, but strikers say they will not return until their fired colleagues are also reinstated.

Since last Wednesday, about 50 drivers for Capitol Tours Cambodia have protested outside the bus company’s Phnom Penh headquarters to demand the rehiring of five co-workers who the drivers say were fired for forming a labour union.

The tour company, however, maintains the workers – removed from their positions on July 19 – were let go due to the abuse of an unspecified internal company rule.

An order released yesterday by the Arbitration Council, which states employers and workers are bound to comply, tells the drivers to “immediately suspend the strike” until the council has concluded its deliberation.

Prit Souoth, a legal officer at the Cambodia Labour Confederation (CLC), said he believes the letter’s reference to “all protesters” includes the fired drivers and intends they return alongside the other protesters.

However, Phann Sopheap, general manager of Capitol Tours, said he will not be reinstating the fired drivers today.

“We definitely will not allow [the] five workers back to work,” he said, saying the company plans to “wait and see” how many strikers actually return to their posts today before taking further action.

Sem Sokha, a representative of drivers, said protesters will not return without their fired colleagues, who, he said, were appointed as their new union leaders.

“If the company refuses to accept them…why [should] we need to go back?”

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