About 8,000 workers went on strike at a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory in southern Vietnam in the country's latest industrial action demanding higher pay, an official said yesterday.
Communist leaders and foreign businesses have voiced concern over the wave of wildcat strikes, seen as the worst in post-war Vietnam, that started almost three months ago in mainly Asian-owned plants around Ho Chi Minh City.
The latest dispute flared up in a Taiwanese-owned factory, said Tran Van Ngoc, chairman of the Hoa An commune's people's committee in Dong Nai province, 50km from the city.
"The number of strikers in the Pou Chen Vietnam company reached up to 8,000 on Monday," Ngoc said.
"The company gave the workers the rest of the day and Tuesday off to search for an early solution," he said.
Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the state-run Tuoi Tre daily, the workers went on strike because they were unhappy with their salaries.
The industrial disputes over pay and conditions started in late December. Unskilled workers in Vietnam typically earn about US$2 a day for work in factories that make footwear, textiles and other products for export.
Senior Labor Ministry official Pham Minh Huan has voiced concern about the strikes, some of which have turned violent, state media reported yesterday.
"We need to limit the spread of strikes held across the country in the recent past as they have served to create an unstable environment for foreign investment," he was quoted as saying.
All unions in Vietnam are under the umbrella of the Communist Party and in principle workers need to seek authorization 20 days before a strike.
Japanese officials have met President Tran Duc Luong to voice their concern about the strikes, a Vietnam government spokesman has said. And the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam wrote a letter to Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in January, saying they worried the strikes could spread to European-owned plants.
One of Vietnam's attractions as an investment destination, the letter said, was "the fact that the workforce is not prone to industrial action."
The strikes come as the European Commission is accusing Vietnam and China of dumping footwear on the European market and is threatening to slap import duties on the products.
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