Four Arrested and Three Injured as Thousands Strike at Taiwanese-owned Adidas Supplier in Vietnam

With few orders due to COVID-19, company offers financial support for workers only through the end of June.

Four Arrested and Three Injured as Thousands Strike at Taiwanese-owned Adidas Supplier in Vietnam

At least four people were detained and one other injured as 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 five-day strike began May 26 and ended Saturday, as workers from the Taiwanese-owned Chi Hung Company Ltd., a producer of shoes for Adidas, were told that the company could only support them through June.

The company, in Tan Uyen town, had been operating as normal even when Vietnam began social distancing, but the lack of new orders is forcing the company’s 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. Strikers told RFA that four workers were arrested by police, while a pregnant worker fainted after a stun gun was used on her.

RFA spoke to authorities and several workers during the course of the labor action.

Lt. Col. Tan Phu, head of the town’s police department, confirmed to RFA’s Vietnamese Service that the police were working on the issue, but abruptly hung up the phone when the reporter identified his association with Radio Free Asia.

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 [U.S. $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 canceled,” 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 labor union.

“Right now the head of the provincial labor union, the Labor 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.

The company issued an announcement to the workers at the end of the workday on Thursday, saying, “The company is presently working under normal conditions, hoping that workers do not worry and continue to join in on production.”

“Those reporting to work must scan their employee badge and confirm their names on the attendance list to be paid salary,” the announcement said.

“Amid the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the company will do its best to acquire orders in the hopes of maintaining employment for all workers and staff,” it added.

The announcement was signed and stamped by the company’s general director, Liu Yu Feng, and trade union chairman Nguyen Thi Ngoc Ha.

On Saturday, a Chi Hung Company representative told state media that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it planned to temporarily suspend labor 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.

Following this announcement, the strike ended and workers returned to work.

Chi Hung Co. Ltd was founded in August 2000 and employs over 10 thousand workers.

Another strike in same province

Meanwhile on Monday, Vietnam’s state media reported that 100 workers at a different Taiwanese-owned company in the same province began their unrelated strike, over the company failing to pay severance after laying them off.

Workers for the G.R.A. Company said they want to get refunds for the payments they made into an unemployment insurance fund, and they demanded severance and other related payments in compensation for layoffs.

A representative of police at the My Phuoc Industrial Park police station confirmed to state media that G.R.A.’s management explained in an announcement to laborers that the company would solve all issues with benefits for the workers, but they did not agree, resulting in the strike.

Most of the demonstrators joining the strike on Monday were previously laid off by G.R.A. according to Dang Tan Dat from the Binh Duong labor union.

They returned to the company Monday demanding unemployment insurance payments and severance, Dang said.

The labor union is working with the company to find a solution, he said.

Binh Duong province, considered the “gateway to Ho Chi Minh City” is home to many industrial parks and industrial clusters that manufacture goods for global companies.

Foreign investors from 64 countries and territories set up shop in Binh Duong, with 304 projects totaling U.S. $5.7 billion, Vietnam’s ministry of planning and investment reported in October 2019.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Chinese Police Target Activists Who Supported Hong Kong Protests

Veteran rights activist Xiao Yuhui is detained in Guangdong, while outspoken poet Wang Zang faces charges in Yunnan.

Chinese Police Target Activists Who Supported Hong Kong Protests

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained a rights activist who expressed online opposition to Beijing's plans for a draconian national security law in Hong Kong.

Xiao Yuhui was taken from his home by police in Guangdong's Huizhou city after he retweeted a social media post opposing the plan to directly impose a law banning sedition, subversion, foreign interference, and activities supporting independence on the city, to be enforced by China's feared state security police.

Xiao's friend and fellow activist Liao Jianhao told RFA that his family were informed that he is under criminal detention when they went to inquire after him at the police station.

"The answer they got down at the police station was that they couldn't visit Xiao Yuhui," Liao said. "[They were told] he would be transferred somewhere else [in China] within the next three days."

"They were unable to say exactly where that would be," he said. "They said that this was peculiar to criminal detention."

Liao said Xiao was detained after he retweeted a post referring to an online letter-writing campaign by Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper the Apple Daily, in opposition to the national security law.

The person who originally posted the link to the campaign in a WeChat group was also detained, Liao said, although he knew few details about her.

"This woman has now been released on bail pending trial," Liao said. "The two of them retweeted the Hong Kong [letter-writing compaign] in WeChat and called for public accountability regarding the situation in Hong Kong."

Xiao is a veteran rights campaigner and an expert in China's now-defunct "one-child" family planning policy.

He was detained by police on alleged "credit card fraud" charges in 2016, and received a probationary sentence.

But he had kept a low profile since, and fellow activist Liang Songji said his detention showed how hard the ruling Chinese Communist Party is preparing to crack down on anyone who opposes Hong Kong's national security law.

"They are trying to block anyone or any opinions supporting Hong Kong's struggle ...  [for democracy], so you can get invited to 'drink tea' [with the state security police], summoned to the police station, and even arrested for this," Liang said.

Rights lawyer Wu Kuiming was also summoned to the police station to give a statement regarding the offending post, he said.

"Wu Kuiming is also a member of this [WeChat] group," Liao said. "This means they are taking statements as evidence and are more likely ... to frame Xiao Yuhui."

Poet also detained

Meanwhile, police in the southwestern province of Yunnan have detained outspoken poet Wang Zang, who has also shown public support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

Wang was taken away on May 30 by police from the Chuxiong Economic Development Zone police department in Yunnan's Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

He was released after being held in custody for 12 hours and could face charges of subversion, according to Beijing artist Yan Zhengxue.

"[Wang's wife] Wang Li said on WeChat that the local police came to charge him ... that there were 20 cops upstairs and 20 cops downstairs," Yan said. "She can't reach the phone now [as she's under police surveillance]."

Police seized Wang Zang's passport, ID card, and the family's cell phones, and the family is currently under effective house arrest at their home, Yan said.

Repeated calls to the Chuxiong Economic Development Zone police station rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.

Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia said Wang's detention came on the eve of the politically sensitive anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

"Wang Zang has been totally consistent in his concern for Hong Kong," Hu said. "But I don't think he has posted much that could support criminal charges by the authorities."

Wang, who hails from Yunnan, was previously a resident of Beijing's Songzhuang artists' village, and has previously been targeted with repeated forced evictions for showing online support for the 2014 Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong.

Reported by Gao Feng and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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