Anger over Tet bonuses leads to strikes in FIEs

VietNamNet Bridge – Tet bonus problems are contributing to strikes in scores of foreign-backed enterprises in southern provinces.

Last week, about 20,000 workers of South Korean shoe maker Taekwang Vina Industrial Company in Dong Nai province’s Bien Hoa 2 Industrial Park staged a one-day strike demanding fatter salaries and bonuses for Vietnam’s Tet traditional festival.

They also demanded the company improve their meal quality and allow them to go home sooner to welcome Tet.

At the same time, more than 4,000 workers of South Korean garment maker Namyang International Vietnam Company in this province’s Amata Industrial Park launched a strike demanding better salaries and Tet bonuses.

“Such strikes are just among many other ones to be launched in the coming time when Tet is drawing nearer in Dong Nai, especially at industrial parks. This time is sensitive, because many employers do not want to give Tet bonuses to their workers,” said Vo Thanh Lap, head of Dong Nai province’s Industrial Park Authority.

Recently, over 6,000 workers of Taiwanese-backed garment maker Han Son Vina Company in Binh Duong province’s Song Than 1 Industrial Park went on strike demanding a pay rise of VND300,000 ($15.3) per month.

“The workers also required the company to announce specific Tet bonus figures,” said Tran Van Lieu, head of Binh Duong province’s Industrial Park Authority.

He said only 30 per cent of the 1,050 foreign enterprises in the province’s industrial parks had their own trade unions, which were in charge of protecting workers’ benefits.

“We are also worried about an increase in strikes when the Tet is coming nearer. This situation happens every year,” Lieu said.

He said each worker in the industrial parks might be given VND1.5 million ($76.9) as the 13th month salary. However, the bonus and salary were “insufficient” for workers to cover their daily expenses.

“I personally think that Tet bonus at foreign enterprises in Vietnam this year will be lower than last year, due to their business difficulties when Vietnam’s economy is yet to fully recover,” Lap said.

According to Long An province’s Industrial Park Authority, many of 140 foreign enterprises in the province’s industrial parks reported losses in 2010 and Tet bonuses for their workers were unlikely.

“The absence of Tet bonuses will not only cause strikes, but also prompt workers to leave the enterprises in search of other employment. The best way for enterprises to keep workers is to think much about workers’ benefits,” said the authority’s head Phan Thanh Phi.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the levels of Tet bonus for workers at foreign enterprises in 2010 would average VND3.3 million ($169) and VND2.2 million ($113), respectively, per worker.

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