500 workers go on strike in central Vietnam over unreasonable pay

By Dac Thanh   October 16, 2017 | 07:31 pm PT
The company switched to paying workers based on the number of products they make, forcing them to work overtime for less money.

More than 500 workers at a garment factory in the central province of Quang Nam went on strike on Monday morning to protest against a new way of calculating their wages and overtime regulations.

The workers claimed that when they started working for U World Sports Viet Nam Co. Ltd., their contracts gave them a basic wage of VND2.9 million ($128) per month. Additionally, they were also entitled to attendance and overtime bonuses as well as allowances to cover travel expenses.

However, the company recently changed its wage calculation method, which now requires workers to reach at least 80 percent of the company's given quota before they can receive bonuses and allowances.


Workers go on strike at U World Sports Viet Nam Co. Ltd. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

“The quota the company is asking for is too high, and it's hard to reach even if we work overtime,” a worker said.

“With the new wage calculation method, we workers lose more than VND3.5 million a month. And the company usually pays us late,” Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper quoted another worker as saying.

The workers also protested against the company's overtime regulations. According to them, their contracts state that they need to work 8 hours a day. However, they are often forced to work for 3.5 more hours a day and on Sundays. The new wage calculation method also results in them not receiving any extra money for working overtime.

“To legalize the overtime, the company required us to sign a form stating it's voluntary. If we don't agree to work overtime, it will be recorded as an offense and if it happens three times, we'll be fired,” a worker said.

Local authorities quickly organized a dialogue between the workers and the company. Cao Thi Tram, assistant to the company's CEO, explained that the company changed its wage calculation method to make it more fair for hard-working employees and did not expect workers to take it so negatively.

She then agreed to temporarily revert to the old method and work with authorities to make appropriate adjustments to the company's regulations.

Tran Quoc Quan, a local labor official, also asked the company to guarantee the workers' rights and bonuses, as well as change its overtime regulations to be in accordance with the law.


Officials listen to the workers' complaints. Photo by VnExpess/Dac Thanh

The workers eventually ended the strike on Monday afternoon after receiving a letter of commitment from the parties involved.

U World Sports Viet Nam Co. Ltd. is a fully foreign-owned garment company founded in November last year. However, its factory has only been operating for five months.

Earlier this month, around 8,000 workers went on strike at a shoe firm in the central province of Thanh Hoa after having their bicycle parking privileges taken away from them.

Last month, about 6,000 workers in Thanh Hoa also went on strike to fight against unreasonable regulations set by S&H Vina Co. Ltd., a garment company in Thach Thanh District.

The wildcat strike lasted for five days, with the factory eventually agreeing to more than half of the workers' demands, including abolishing a requirement to give three days notice to take leave for a death in the family.

Vietnam has delayed passing a law on demonstrations multiple times, so all protests held by workers amount to what are known as wildcat strikes.

A total of 133 wildcat strikes took place across the country in the first five months of this year, with disgruntled workers demanding better pay and working conditions and protesting against overtime, according to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

The number of strikes was down by 24 percent from the same period last year, but more workers were involved in the protests, it said.

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