Unpaid workers go on strike at ministry-run transport firm in Vietnam

By Duc Hung   August 23, 2017 | 03:23 am PT
Unpaid workers go on strike at ministry-run transport firm in Vietnam
The workers gather at the company's office on Tuesday but no one was there to see them. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung
Medical insurance and holiday bonuses have also been cut by the company.

Nearly 20 workers at a company run by Vietnam's Ministry of Transport have gone on strike in the central province of Ha Tinh after not receiving their salaries for months.

The workers said that 474 Joint Stock Company, a construction unit belonging to the Cienco 4 Corporation under the ministry, has not paid them for four months and has failed to fulfill its insurance contributions.

Nguyen Thi My, 35, has been a road maintenance worker for 15 years and should receive a salary of VND4 million ($176) a month, but she has not received a penny since March.

She also said her holiday bonuses were taken away two years ago.

A couple who started working for the company nearly 22 years ago said they have been forced to borrow money so they can pay for their children to start the new school year. “Everything’s messed up,” the mother said.

Several workers have also had to foot the bill for medical treatment that should have been covered by company health insurance.

The workers said they have complained to the company via phone on multiple occasions but have not received a satisfactory answer. On Wednesday they decided to visit the company office but it was locked and there was no one available to speak to.

Company Director Nguyen Van Lieu told VnExpress that he was in Hanoi at the time to ask for money from Cienco 4 to pay the workers.

Lieu claimed the company has not received any new contracts for the past six months while investors in ongoing projects have been withholding payments.

“After meeting with Cienco 4, I promise we will find a solution,” he said.

Vietnam has delayed passing a law on demonstrations multiple times, so all protests held by workers amount to what is 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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