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Vietnamese Workers Strike Foreign Owned Factories

January 4, 2008

HANOI (AFP)–About 2,000 workers have gone on strike at a Taiwan-owned textile plant in southern Vietnam, complaining their wages are not keeping pace with rising consumer prices, a labor official said Friday.

The workers walked out on Thursday from the CCH Top company plant in Ho Chi Minh City and kept striking Friday, claiming a new basic monthly salary from Jan. 1 of VND1,070,000 (about US$67) was too low.

“With the rapid hikes in goods prices…the salary is not enough for living,” said workers’ representative Pham Dao Nguyen.

The industrial action was one of several this week in foreign-owned plants in Vietnam, a low-wage economy of 84 million and a major producer of textiles, garments and footwear as well as electronics and food products.

Workplace disputes have risen in recent years, with many strikes before the traditional Tet lunar New Year, which is in mid-February this year, when prices go up and workers need more money to travel home to their families.

Inflation topped 8% last year, and consumer prices jumped over 12% in December compared to the same month in 2006.

The communist government said it has raised the minimum wage from Jan. 1 for laborers to VND540,000 and to at least VND800,000 for workers in foreign- invested enterprises, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

Several more strikes hit foreign-owned factories in the country’s south this week, labor and company officials said.

Some 1,480 textile workers went on strike at the South Korean-owned SH Vina Company in Long An province Wednesday, but workers were back Friday after salaries were raised to an average of VND1.4 million, an official said.

About 500 workers at the Japanese-owned Mitsuba M-Tech also went on strike Wednesday, asking for travel and accommodation allowances, and returned Thursday after winning a VND140,000 monthly allowance, said a company official.

About 1,200 workers at the Taiwan-Vietnamese Duc Thanh II footwear plant in Dong Nai went on strike Wednesday but returned Friday after the company raised monthly wages by VND150,000, a company offical said.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper also reported strikes by hundreds of workers in the Tung Kuang Company in