Thousands of workers in Vietnam’s Binh Duong province went on strike last week over their company’s plan to lay them off due to a downturn in business from the coronavirus pandemic. The demonstration resulted in the arrest of at least four people and one injured.
Taiwanese-owned Chi Hung Company Ltd., producer of shoes for Adidas that has been in operation since August 2000, told its workers that the company could only support them through June.
The company had been operating as normal even when Vietnam began social distancing, but the lack of new orders is forcing the owners to reduce its workforce. The company plans to close its doors starting Monday, while still paying its workers through the end of the month.
More than 10,000 workers joined the demonstration at the company’s headquarters which began May 26 and ended on Saturday.
Strikers told RFA that four workers were arrested by police, while a pregnant worker fainted after a stun gun was used on her.
A striking worker who requested anonymity to speak freely told RFA the reasons behind the strike, saying, “During COVID-19, other companies announced that if there were no orders, the workers would be allowed to stay home and each worker could receive support of 170,000 dong [US$7.28].”
“But Chi Hung is only supporting us through June, even though they think we’ll have to stay home in July and August, because processing contracts are said to have been cancelled,” the worker said.
“So now, we can only stay at home and we’re not receiving any announcements about when we can return to work at the company, and it’s hard to find another job,” the worker added.
The worker also said that the company has a trade union, but representatives of the union did not explain anything about worker protections during the epidemic.
Several relevant agencies are cooperating to moderate the strike, according to Nguyen Dinh Khanh, the vice chairman of the province’s labour union.
“Right now the head of the provincial labour union, the Labour Department and the Tan Uyen People’s Committee are joining together to solve this issue with Chi Hung,” said Nguyen.
“That company has a trade union so the relevant agencies will be working together to resolve this issue,” he said.
On Saturday, a Chi Hung Company representative told state media that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it planned to temporarily suspend labour contracts with some of its employees in July and August. However, as the company has not yet announced in detail its circumstances and support policies, there was confusion and misunderstandings among the workers, which caused the strike.
At present, the company’s production remains stable and management will announce support policies for workers on June 20 at the latest, the representative said. (Source: RFA)