Thousands strike at Nike, Adidas shoe factory in Vietnam

PTI Hanoi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 01, 2015

Workers of Pou Yuen Vietnam gather for a negotiation with labour union officials at their factory on the fifth day of their strike in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh City on March 31, 2015.   -  Reuters

Workers of Pou Yuen Vietnam gather at their factory on the fifth day of a strike in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh City on March 31, 2015.   -  Reuters

Thousands of workers at the major factory in southern Vietnam went on strike for the fifth day on Tuesday in protest over social insurance cover, in rare show of labour unrest in a country positioning itself as a future Asian manufacturing powerhouse.   -  Reuters

Thousands of Vietnamese workers at a major footwear factory were on strike for a sixth day on Wednesday over a social insurance law in a rare challenge to government policy.

Several thousand people at the Taiwanese-owned Pou Yuen factory in southern Ho Chi Minh City began the stoppage last Thursday. Pou Yuen Vietnam, which employs more than 80,000 workers, is a subsidiary of Pou Chen Group and makes footwear for companies such as Nike and Adidas.

The workers continued the peaceful strike in the factory’s compound today under a heavy police presence. They marched along Highway 1 with banners and beating drums on Monday and yesterday, blocking traffic on the main road artery.

They were protesting a new law, which comes into effect next year and says that workers will get a social insurance monthly allowance when they retire instead of getting a one-time payment if they resign.

The striking workers said that if they quit earlier, they would have to wait until their retirement age 60 for men and 55 for women to get the allowance, and they prefer the lump sum to pay for their daily needs while seeking new jobs.

Vietnam is hit by several hundred labour strikes a year, but they are mostly over poor working condition and low pay.

Protests over government policies are rare.

Vice Minister for Labor Doan Mau Diep met with the workers on Tuesday and said that his department would propose to allow them to choose whether to get one-time social insurance benefits when they quit or receive them upon retirement.

His words were met with applause from the workers, according to state media reports, but if was not clear that he had persuaded them to stop the strike.

Dang Ngoc Tung, the president of Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said in a statement on the trade union’s website that the strikers should return to work and authorities will address their concerns.

He also told them not to allow “bad elements” to take advantage of the situation to stir up unrest that would affect security, order and the company’s operations.

Nearly 70 per cent of Vietnam’s population of 90 million are under 40, providing a major workforce for many multi-national companies.

Published on April 01, 2015

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