Vietnamese province forks out salaries to workers abandoned by S Korean employer

By Phuoc Tuan   February 10, 2018 | 11:02 pm PT
Vietnamese province forks out salaries to workers abandoned by S Korean employer
Many workers in southern Vietnam are left without their January salary and holiday bonus a week before the Lunar New Year's Eve. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha
The company's director has reportedly left Vietnam, hanging hundreds of employees out to dry before the Tet holiday.

Authorities in Dong Nai Province have advanced 1,900 workers at a garment factory VND7 billion ($308,000) to cover their overdue salaries ahead of the Tet holiday.

Texwell Vina's South Korean director, together with 11 mangers, reportedly left Vietnam on February 8 while still owing VND13.7 billion to workers. The company also owes VND17.5 billion in social insurance contributions from August 2017.

Following the disappearance of their employers, hundreds of Texwell Vina workers have gathered outside the factory at the Bau Xeo Industrial Zone in Trang Bom District over the last two days to demand their pay.

Provincial authorities have agreed to transfer half a month's salary to each worker, said Huynh Van Tinh, director of the Dong Nai Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, to ensure they are able to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year.

The company's assets are being seized by authorities and will be sold off to pay for the other half of the salaries if the absent owner fails to show up, according to the department.

This is the latest in a series of cases where employers have absconded from Vietnam’s southern industrial zone ahead of Tet to avoid paying holiday bonuses to their workers. Earlier this year, more than 600 workers at a garment firm in Saigon staged a strike for more than a week to demand their wages after their South Korean employer disappeared.

According to the HCMC Labor Federation, as of January 2018, at least five businesses still owe wages and social insurance contributions from 2017 to around 900 workers, who are unlikely to be able to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet), which starts on February 16, due to empty pockets.

Another 200 businesses have claimed they had a difficult year and would have problems paying holiday bonuses, it said.

Vietnam’s economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2017, the highest rate in a decade, but that hasn't benefited everyone.

Vietnam raised its minimum wage by around 7.3 percent last year to VND3.75 million per month, the lowest nominal jump on record. The government has approved another increase of 6.5 percent from mid-2018.

Last year, a third of the 2,600 workers surveyed by Vietnam’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions said their income was barely enough to live on, while 12 percent said their wages simply did not cover basic expenses, forcing them to work extra hours.

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