Hundreds of workers protest for getting laid off at Nobland

By Le Tuyet   August 25, 2023 | 12:37 am PT
Hundreds of workers protest for getting laid off at Nobland
Workers protest at the office of Nobland Vietnam in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City on August 24, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong
Hundreds of workers at South Korean-invested garment firm Nobland Vietnam are protesting the company for firing them because they do not agree with a productivity-based salary scheme.

Workers on Thursday gathered at the office of the company in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12 to claim unfair treatment after Nobland last week announced that it would lay off 611 workers, many of them have been with the firm for years.

Starting Monday the company has been calling up groups of workers to tell them that their contract will end in 30 days.

The company gives each laid-off worker at least two months of salary as compensation. They will also receive the salary for every leave day that they did not use.

Post-Covid impact and the global economic crisis has caused a plunge in orders and forced the company to restructure by laying off staff, Nobland told its workers.

But workers claim that the company has an agenda behind the layoff.

"They want to have a reason to lay off senior workers who are being paid by work hours, and that is why they used the term ‘restructuring,’" a worker said, asking to remain anonymous.

She said that many workers who were in the list of being laid off were actually given an option to remain with the company: by agreeing with the productivity-based salary scheme.

There are 30 workers in her unit, but only those who are being paid by work hours are being laid off. Those who have agreed with the productivity-based salary scheme are not fired.

The female worker, who has been with the firm for 17 years, is now receiving a basic monthly salary of VND9 million, but under the new scheme her basic salary will be reduced to VND5 million, same as everyone else.

To have higher pay she will have no choice but to produce more products.

This is not the first time that workers of Nobland have protested the productivity-based payment system.

In December 2021, over 1,000 staff at the company went on strike to protest the payment scheme after the company said it would impose it in the following year.

Workers said that the new scheme would be unfair to them as their basic salary had been raised by 5% annually because of years of contribution to the company.

However, a company representative said at the time that the new payment method would help stimulate production and improve output.

If staff work hard and improve their skills, incomes would increase two to three times, the representative said.

The South Korean-wholly-invested Nobland Vietnam Co., Ltd., has been operating in HCMC since 2003, specializing in producing apparel products with more than 2,500 employees.

Surveys by the Research Center for Employment Relations (ERC) have pointed out that a performance-based salary scheme would force employees to work as hard as they can to gain high salary.

Many of them will even stop going to the bathrooms and stop drinking water to ensure that their performance is high, they said.

In the first two or three years workers might achieve high performance but this will gradually decline in the next 10-15 years, ERC said, adding that some countries do not encourage this payment scheme due to the possible negative impact it has on workers.

The changes in Nobland’s payment scheme, including its layoff plan, have all been reported to labor authorities, said Nguyen Vo Minh Thu, deputy head of Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA).

The labor union of the company has approved the plan, she said.

But as workers went on strike, the labor union of the company Thursday morning requested Nobland leaders to reconsider employees’ demands.

Nobland has not responded to VnExpress’ requests for comments.

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