Wildcat strike in Vietnam over New Year's bonus

Vietnamese garment workers strike in 2007.
Vietnamese garment workers strike in 2007.

More than 1,000 workers at a Taiwanese-owned garment factory in central Vietnam have gone on strike last Thursday (22nd January).

Submitted by Ed on January 24, 2009

Ngo Gia Linh, a trade union official in the central Vietnamese port city of Danang, said workers at the Valley View Vietnam garment company struck Wednesday to demand the company pay them their one-month-wage year-end bonuses before the start of Tet, the Vietnamese lunar New Year.

Linh said the company had promised to pay bonuses before Tet. When workers had received no payment by Wednesday, they surrounded the office of Valley View general director Wong Sung Hsin and prevented him from leaving Vietnam for the holiday.

"Fortunately, they didn't damage any company property," said Linh. "They protested peacefully."

Linh said after meeting with local authorities, the company said they committed to pay workers a 13th monthly salary before the weekend. "Most of workers have received their money so far," said Linh.

Local media said many of the workers had been counting on the bonuses to pay for bus and train tickets to return to their home villages for the Tet holiday. This is the third wildcat strike at Valley View in recent years, following one 2005 and another last September. All three were related to salary payments.

There are no independent labour organizations in Vietnam, and by law, workers must have the approval of the official national labour union to strike. But the official union sees its role as mediating between companies and workers rather than taking sides.

Vietnamese authorities reported 650 wildcat strikes last year, compared with 541 in 2007. Local media reports put the number at 762. Strikes rose due to rapid inflation in 2008, with prices rising 23 per cent over the course of the year. Prices for foodstuffs rose 42 per cent.