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Bus strike, part deux

Sorya Transportation employees strike in front of a company garage in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district
Sorya Transportation employees strike in front of a company garage in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district yesterday. phA LINA

Bus strike, part deux

Striking Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation bus service workers demonstrated with fired employees outside a company garage in Russey Keo district yesterday and threatened to lead others off the job again if a deal on contracts can’t be brokered by the Ministry of Labour and company representatives.

A representative for the newly conceived bus union said that after multiple employees were fired in the lead-up to Khmer New Year, union reps agreed to send a letter on Tuesday asking the Ministry of Labour to intervene.

“If we do not get any results from the ministry or the company I will lead a bigger strike anytime this week,” said union leader Sambath Vorn, who claims 20 employees had been fired.

Beyond demanding the reinstatement of fired employees, the union, which was started by a breakaway group that refused to return to work after a previous strike this month, is calling for an array of changes, including a $60 monthly wage increase and a health bonus.

But according to general manager Chan Sophanna, the union is exaggerating the number of fired employees.

“We only fired five drivers, and more than 10 workers abandoned the work themselves because they didn’t want to work,” he said.

“Their demands exceed our ability to agree with them. What they are demanding will close our company doors because we can’t give that much of an increase,” he said.

More than 60 workers originally went on strike on April 3, mere days before the country’s transportation companies geared up for increased business over Khmer New Year, during which many people travel between provinces to visit family.

However, following negotiations, Sorya agreed to end a policy fining drivers $750 for transporting people or goods without a ticket, leading virtually all of the employees to return to work.

Holdouts, fired workers and those having second thoughts about going back started the most recent round of strikes right after Khmer New Year.

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