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Capitol Bus union blasts rivals

Employees from Capitol Tours protest their dismissal near Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market last year after their contracts were terminated.
Employees from Capitol Tours protest their dismissal near Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market last year after their contracts were terminated. Heng Chivoan

Capitol Bus union blasts rivals

A newly formed union at local transport company Capitol Bus has criticised former employees – who were themselves allegedly fired last year for attempting to organise for inciting violence as part of their ongoing dispute with the company.

Last July, five bus drivers from Capitol claimed they were fired for trying to form a union, but the company claimed that they were let go for flouting company policies, like making unscheduled stops on bus routes.

On Friday, the fired drivers, who now number 45, unsuccessfully attempted to submit a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, after which the new Capitol Staff and Drivers Union issued a letter condemning them and unionist leader Ath Thorn’s alleged attempts to use violence in the past to resolve their dispute.

“For its own interests, the Cambodian Labour Confederation is using the 45 former drivers to cause violence, including throwing stones at buses with passengers, and [causing] congestion outside Capitol headquarters,” the letter reads.

The laid-off drivers have held multiple protests outside Capitol’s headquarters, with a February protest ending in scores of drivers being beaten by a rival tuk-tuk union.

Yesterday, Thorn said the Capitol Staff and Drivers Union had been set up by the bus company, and was not interested in upholding workers’ rights.

“This is a bad action from the company,” he said. “If you look at their actions and their speech, like calling us gangsters, they are quoting Capitol bosses.”

Hu Kokvan, assistant to a Capitol director, said the company had nothing to do with the new union, and insisted it had not opposed the former drivers’ attempt to form a union.

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