After grappling with weeks of on-again, off-again strikes, the Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation bus firm has filed complaints against 20 former employees for incitement, making threats and using the company uniform without permission.
General manager Chan Sophanna said yesterday that the company filed the complaints to Phnom Penh Municipal Court late last month.
“We sued them for using our company uniform to protest and destroying our company honour, incitement and making threats,” he said. “They not only illegally used the company uniform, but also threatened other staff that refused to join with them.”
More than 60 workers went on strike on April 3 ahead of the Khmer New Year holiday. Following negotiations, Sorya brought most workers back by agreeing to end an unpopular policy of fining drivers who transport people or goods without a ticket.
But – led by holdouts, workers who changed their minds about returning and those protesting against the laying off of some employees after the first strikes – protests flared back up after Khmer New Year. The demonstrations cooled when the Arbitration Council stepped in to mediate the dispute.
Sambath Vorn, a representative for the newly conceived bus union, said yesterday that only his vice president, Yem Kuyba, and an activist, Thun Visal, have been summonsed to appear on Friday. Both were fired by Sorya.
Vorn also dismissed the allegations about threats and incitement.
Kuyba, the vice president, said yesterday that he might request a suspension of the hearing due to a scheduling conflict.
“The company fired me, but I did not accept. So I’m still company staff and I still have the right to wear the uniform,” he said.
Vorn said he and a company representative will meet on Thursday with the Arbitration Council. He added that he is confident about the case, saying nothing wrong or illegal occurred.
“We just demanded more wages, [better] working conditions and the reinstatement of 20 drivers,” he said, referring to the people who were fired in addition to 12 others the company says quit.
“We will gather and protest again if we do not get justice from the Arbitration Council.”