Thousands of workers of Taiwanese-invested footwear maker Pouchen Vietnam, a Nike contract manufacturer, struck work Friday, demanding the same Tet bonus as last year.
They refused to return to work after finishing their lunch to protest the company’s policy to pay less bonus than last year for the coming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.
Tet, the most important Vietnamese festival, falls early February this year.
The workers stood on national road 1K in front of their factory’s entrance, causing traffic congestion for hours. The strike affected others and all 14,000 workers of the factory in Bien Hoa Town, southern Dong Nai Province, stopped working.
A mobile police team was dispatched to maintain order in the area.
A female worker said that the company had announced Thursday that employees who have worked for it a full year or more will be given Tet bonuses of 1-1.54 months’ salary – around VND5 million ($217) to nearly VND20 million.
The highest i bonus in 2021 was 1.87 months’ salary, and in previous years, 2.2 months. “With this (coefficient), workers’ Tet bonus in 2022 will be lower than before,” she added.
A Pouchen representative said that in 2021, the company had faced difficulties in production and business. When the fourth wave of Covid-19 broke out, the factory had to stop working from July 12 to Sept. 30, 2021. On Oct. 5, 2021, it resumed production, but at 60 percent capacity.
Due to the failure to fulfill the production plan, profits fell, so the Tet bonus, the biggest and most anticipated reward for workers, could not the same as the previous year. The rep also said that under the collective labor agreement, the company would pay Tet bonus to employees based on its business performance.
Workers of Pouchen Vietnam gather at company premises on the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha
Nguyen Huu Nguyen, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Bien Hoa City, in which the company is located, said relevant agencies are trying to negotiate with the board of directors of Pouchen to increase the Tet bonus. “However, employees need to share the company’s difficulties, because Covid-19 has caused businesses to suspend operations for months,” he said.
Nguyen Thi Nhu Y, head of the Dong Nai Provincial Labor Confederation, said the union was coordinating with authorities to resolve the situation. She noted that Pouchen’s Tet bonus ws higher than the local industry average.
Pouchen Vietnam, part of Taiwan’s Pouchen Group, has one more factory in Dong Nai and six others in HCMC and the three southern provinces of Tien Giang, Tay Ninh and Ba Ria – Vung Tau for a total of 130,000 employees. The group is expected to spend more than VND1.2 trillion on Tet bonuses this year.
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