By Tran Van Minh
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Workers at a major Vietnamese footwear factory for Nike and Adidas ended a weeklong strike last Thursday after the government agreed to their demands on retirement payouts.
The stoppage by thousands of workers at the Taiwanese-owned Pou Yuen factory in southern Ho Chi Minh City was a rare challenge to communist authorities over policy issues, although strikes over poor working conditions and low pay are common.
The workers were protesting a social insurance 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 workers said that if they quit, they would have to wait until their retirement age — 60 for men and 55 for women — to get the allowance, and prefer the lump sum to pay for their daily needs while seeking new jobs.
The strike was peaceful and earlier this week the workers blocked a major highway, but there was a heavy police presence at the factory.
In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Wednesday, representatives from the Labor Ministry, the trade union and the Ho Chi Minh City government proposed changes to the law to make it “suitable to the situation” and meet the workers’ demand, the government said in a statement.
The government will ask the National Assembly to amend the law that would allow laborers to get their retirement payouts at one time or when they retire, if they choose so, it said.
Vietnam’s authorities show little tolerance for dissent and are wary of protests that could spread and challenge the one-party rule.
Earlier this week, Dang Ngoc Tung, the president of Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, called on the strikers to return to work and also warned 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 percent of Vietnam’s population of 90 million are under 40, providing a major workforce for many multi-national companies. (end)