Strike offers a lesson for FIEs

VietNamNet Bridge – Big strike at a Taiwanese-backed motorbike and automobile manufacturer in Hanoi has again sparked off the issue of decent work for local labourers at foreign invested enterprises in Vietnam.

Last week, 400 of 748 workers of United Motor Vietnam (UMV) at Noi Bai Industrial Park staged a two-day strike, demanding for their social welfare and health-care insurance packages from their foreign employer after they were suddenly fired without any notice.

Nguyen Huong Giang, a representative from Noi Bai Development Corporation Ltd – the park’s investor, told VIR that financial and sales difficulties had forced UMV, which is listed on the Hanoi Stock Exchange, to shut down one of its production workshops at the park, meaning that the employees of that workshop had to stop working there.

“However, UMV’s leadership had given no notice to these workers about the situation. The workers were just summoned to the company’s office to hear that they would get the sack without receiving any financial support and welfare, as well as social and health-care insurances after leaving the company,” Giang said.

When the workers asked the leadership for such support and services, they were flatly refused, Giang added.

Prior to that, the park’s authority advised UMV to hold a meeting about its business performance and the authority would help UMV to seek other jobs for the workers at other factories in Hanoi. However, UMV turned a deaf ear to the authority’s advice.

“If the leadership had clearly explained the company’s poor business performance and its policy on worker cut-back, I think there would not have been any strike and workers would have not been irritated,” she said.

The workers then asked for help from Noi Bai Development Corporation Ltd, Hanoi Industrial Parks Management Authority, the Labour Federation of Soc Son district where the park is located, Hanoi’s Labour Federation and Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

After long negotiations and discussion between these agencies and UMV, the firm had agreed to provide financial support for the workers, some of whom then also agreed to stop working there.

A representative from UMV told VIR that the company’s operation had been resumed.

“All troubles have already been solved under the law. Workers have been working as normal,” said the representative.

Giang said the strike had also badly affected the park’s investment picture, and influencing other foreign firms’ operation at the park like a domino effect.

“Given low salaries, workers from other foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) can also launch the same strikes,” Giang said.

“In fact, workers from some factories at the park have begun to ask their employers for more interests, otherwises they would leave their companies,” she said.

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