Around 10,000 workers at Tae Kwang Vina shoe plant in Vietnam, which makes shoes for Nike, went on strike yesterday (29 November) calling for an increased salary.

The workers protested that their pay was too low to keep pace with rising prices in the country.

Tae Kwang Vina, a Korean company located in the southern Dong Nai province of Vietnam, is one of ten contractors that produce shoes for Nike in the country.

Nike's contractors in Vietnam make about 75m pairs of shoes each year, with the Tae Kwang plant accounting for about 10% of this.

The company also suffered a huge strike in December 2004, when 5,000 people refused to work leading to serious financial damages.

Inflation in Vietnam has been running at 9.5% in the first 11 months of this year.

According to Kieu Minh Sinh, an official with Dong Nai Provincial Trade Union, the average monthly salary at Tae Kwang Vina is VND1m or $62, which is 20% more than Vietnam's minimum wage.
"Given the fact that inflation is so high now, it is hard to say they are being too demanding," said Sinh, whose union was trying to resolve the dispute.

Although the Vietnamese government has promised to increase its minimum wage by roughly 12% starting in January 2008, such an increase would not offset the strong price hikes anticipated over the coming years, said one official at the Vietnam Trade Union.

By Ngo Tuan.