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91 labor strikes reported in Vietnam as Covid-19 hits businesses

By Hoang Phong   June 25, 2020 | 05:00 am PT
91 labor strikes reported in Vietnam as Covid-19 hits businesses
Thousands of workers at JY Ha Nam Company go on strike to protest against the company allowing Chinese staff to return to work, over fear of Covid-19 spread, February 17, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ha Nam Online Newspaper.
A labor report revealed 91 wildcat strikes in the January-May period, up 25 cases from a year ago, mostly due to stagnant production.

Tran Thanh Hai, vice standing president of Vietnam’s General Confederation of Labo, said at a meeting Monday domestic enterprises were severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, prompting them to shut down or scale down operations, the confederation reported on its news website.

This has lead to labor strikes among workers to demand better benefits and pay, Hai noted.

During the past Lunar New Year, Vietnam’s biggest and most important holiday, many workers also went on strike due to delayed salary payments, inadequate holiday bonuses and poor meal quality.

"As soon as the strikes occurred, trade unions cooperated with authorities to settle disputes and satisfy legitimate employee requests, prompting them to resume work," he said.

In May, over 8,000 workers at Taiwanese-invested footwear company Chi Hung in southern Binh Duong Province went on strike after learning the company would cut jobs and terminate contracts in July due to a fall in orders amid the Covid-19 crisis. Hai said the strike was fueled by false reports on social media.

Over five million Vietnamese workers have either lost their jobs, worked fewer hours or had their incomes reduced because of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the first five months of 2020, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs stated.

A ministerial survey found nearly 86 percent of Vietnamese enterprises were affected by the pandemic, especially those in manufacturing and processing, wholesale, retail, logistics, catering and hospitality.

Vietnam recorded first-quarter GDP growth of 3.82 percent, the lowest in a decade. As many as 18,600 companies temporarily suspended business during this period, up 26 percent year-on-year.

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

In 2019, Vietnam reported 121 strikes with workers demanding better pay and working conditions, down by half compared to 2018, according to the labor ministry.

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