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Capitol bus dispute makes it to court

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
The dispute began in 2015, when the bus drivers formed a union and were fired shortly after. KT/Chor Sokunthea

More than 30 sacked drivers of the Capitol Transport Company yesterday urged Phnom Penh Municipal Court to reject the company’s claim for compensation of $20,000 from each of them over a labour dispute.

The dispute occurred in late 2015 when 45 bus drivers claimed they were fired by the company for forming a union.

However, the company said they were sacked because they had secretly picked up passengers which was against regulations.

Some of the sacked drivers reached a compromise with the company over their termination, but 33 did not.

At yesterday’s hearing, Choem Khieng, the lawyer representing the drivers, denied the company’s accusation against his clients and said that they were dismissed because they had protested against working conditions after they formed a union.

“The company violated the Labour Law which provides the right to establish a union,” he said. “And after the protest, the company issued termination letters to my clients.”

“I request the court to reject the plaintiff’s complaint and demand it accept them back to work,” he added.

Mr Khieng also asked the court to get the company to provide backdated employment benefits to his clients from the date of their dismissal.

Khieu Van, who is representing the company, said the company brought the case to court to have the workers’ contract legally terminated and to also demand compensation from them.

He said the company had warned them over picking up passengers for their own benefit many times, this but they did not listen.

“This activity damaged the company’s reputation because passengers are informed that the buses will not stop to pick up passengers along the routes,” he said.

Mr Van asked the court to dissolve the employment contracts and have 33 drivers pay $20,000 each to the company as compensation.

Presiding Judge Heng Kessaro said he would inform both parties of his verdict at a later date.

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