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January 5, 2009

Vietnam workers protest employers’ alleged abuses
Nearly 4,000 workers at a Taiwanese footwear plant in Vietnam have gone on strike to protest alleged ill-treatment by their bosses, AFP quoted state media as reporting Sunday.

The workers, mostly women, said managers from mainland China had beaten and humiliated employees at the Sun Jade company in Thanh Hoa province, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

Thanh Nien and other newspapers said the workers had also reported being denied sick leave and days off for deaths in the family, and were often docked an entire month's pay if they failed to show up.

Company and local trade union officials could not be reached for comment. Reports said it was the plant's third strike since June.

Last year, as Vietnam was hit by double-digit inflation and an economic slowdown, workers downed tools at hundreds of factories, demanding better pay and conditions.

The Lao Dong daily estimated there were 775 strikes nationwide, mostly in the industrial south, compared to 541 the previous year.

Industrial unrest could flare up again before the Tet lunar New Year in late January, a time when workers often ask for extra pay and time off to visit their families.

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