Vietnamese workers end 5-day strike after company scraps draconian death leave rule

By Le Hoang   September 12, 2017 | 04:59 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese workers end 5-day strike after company scraps draconian death leave rule
Workers were on strike at S&H Vina Company in Thanh Hoa Province last week. They returned to work on Monday morning. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Son

Thousands of workers will no longer have their salaries slashed if they take time off when a family member dies.

More than 6,000 workers in the central province of Thanh Hoa have ended a five-day wildcat strike after their company agreed to more than half of their demands, including abolishing a requirement to give three days notice to take leave for a death in the family.

The workers at S&H Vina Co. Ltd., a garment company in Thach Thanh District, returned to work on Monday morning.

A labor union official said 10 of their 16 requests regarding salaries, leave and bonuses have been met.

Whether the company will grant the other requests depends on its business results, he said.

Nguyen Thi Tam, a worker, said the company has agreed for workers to take sudden leave for sickness or family funerals without docking their pay.

Tam and thousands of her colleagues had gone on strike to protest against regulations they said were unreasonable and the “inhuman” manner in which they were treated by their managers.

Before the strike, the company only allowed one day's leave per month, and workers had to give three days notice to take time off for sickness, accidents or a death in the family. If they failed to do so, their salaries were cut because there was not a "valid reason" for them to take leave.

Some workers said their wages were cut even after they'd produced a death certificate as evidence.

The situation came to a head last Wednesday when workers laid some old fabric on the floor to relax on after lunch, only for a supervisor to confiscate the cloth and order them to lie on the hard floor instead. The supervisor has since been fired.

S&H Vina has been operating in the province since September 2015 producing garments for export.

Vietnam has delayed passing a law on demonstrations on numerous occasions, 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.