Eleven former teachers filed a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday against their sacking by Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron last January, for being absent without permission.
Rong Chhun, one of the 11 and the ex-president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association and a former member of the National Election Committee (NEC), told The Post that they sought to have the decision reversed and their positions at the ministry reinstated.
“I think if the court is not pressured politically, it will practise the law professionally and accept our petition because we did not act as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has accused us. The ministry’s decision was politically motivated,” he claimed.
Chhun said the teachers had asked for temporary leave from their roles at the ministry to work as members of the commune, district, and provincial councils, and for the NEC.
After the Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on November 16, 2017, he said the 11 lost their positions at the bodies and asked to return to their jobs at the ministry.
However, the Ministry of Education issued a statement saying they had been sacked.
“We were sacked unfairly by the ministry in January last year. They accused us of abandoning our jobs and being absent without permission,” Chhun said.
Kong Sivong had worked as a teacher at Preah Sihanouk Kampong Cham High School since 1990 and was appointed as a member of the Kampong Cham provincial council for the CNRP.
Sivong said the ministry’ decision violated civil servants’ rights and was without basis.
“I hope the court will help reinstate us as teachers again because what the ministry accused us of was very unfair,” he said.
Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post on Wednesday: “I have no comment now because they have submitted a complaint at the court. It is the court’s decision and we will wait for its verdict.”
Ly Chantola, a lawyer and lecturer at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said the Ministry of Education had made its decision and if people were not happy with it, then they had the right to file a complaint with the courts.
“They can file a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court because Cambodia does not have a court which specialises in industrial disputes. In this case, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will be the one that can decide."
“In the case regarding Rong Chhun, there are the laws regarding this issue, especially teachers who requested temporary leave from their jobs because they wanted to work somewhere else."
“They promised to return to their jobs [at the Ministry of Education] in the future, [but] it depends on the agreements they had,” Chantola said.
The former teachers’ complaint to the court reads as follows: “We are dissatisfied with the statement issued by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport sacking us from working at the ministry. We did not do as we have been accused.
“Regarding the decision to sack us, the ministry did not follow correct administrative procedures as stated in Article 40 and Article 47of the Law on Civil Servants.”