Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Vietnam: Hai Phong: 4,000 workers on strike

Wednesday, February 22 2006 @ 05:43 AM PST

VietNamNet – Some 4,000 workers of Hai Phong’s Gold Star Company strike on February 17 asking for salary increases.

According to workers, the minimum wage paid by Gold Star is too low, at VND400,000/month, and they have asked the company to increase it to VND710,000/month in accordance with Decree 03 on minimum wage in foreign-invested firms.

Pham Van Oanh, Head of Hai Phong Labour Federation’s Policy Department said that workers mistakenly believe that Gold Star is a foreign-invested company, when in fact, it is a 100% locally invested company which produces footwear for Taiwanese partners. This is the first strike in this port city in the past two years.

On February 19 the company agreed to increase minimum wage by VND80,000/worker/month, but 4,000 workers say that this level is still too low and continued striking. At present, only 2,000 are working at the factory.

“They asked us to explain why two companies located next to each other pay such dramatically different wages (VND710,000/month at one, while Gold Star pays only VND400,000). It is a really difficult for us to convene when the gap is so wide,” Mr. Oanh said.

This is also a problem for grassroots trade unions. Previously, thousands of workers at domestic companies in southern HCM City, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai asked for increases to their minimum salary in line with those paid by foreign-invested companies. However, this is unfeasible.

According to Pham Minh Huan, Head of the Ministry of Social, War Invalids and Social Affairs’ Salary Department, domestic companies are unable to catch up with minimum salary increases at foreign-invested firms. However, to ensure their interests, employees must negotiate for higher salaries because the minimum salary is currently too low.

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