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Mass protest in Ho Chi Minh City

Released at: 23:00, 07/04/2015

Mass protest in Ho Chi Minh City

Tens of thousands of factory workers protest amendments to social insurance payments.

by Son Ho

A factory with more than 90,000 employees, owned by Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Pou Yuen Corp., halted production last week as workers protested new pension rules.

Ho Chi Minh City's citizens watched on as the vast majority protested in the streets of Binh Tan District, blocking National Road 1A.

The workers do not agree with new regulations laid out in Article 60 of the Law on Social Insurance. Specifically, workers must wait until retirement age to be eligible to receive social insurance benefits instead of after retiring from their job like before. The law was passed by the National Assembly in November last year and will take effect starting at the beginning of 2016.

“On a salary of VND3.482 million ($161.08) per month, I pay VND380,000 ($17.58) for social insurance,” explained factory employee Mr. Tuyen. “If I work for ten or more years, I will be 40 and won't have enough health. I want to retire at that age and go back to my hometown to sell groceries with funds from social insurance. However I will have to wait 15 years to receive it. What will I be living on during those years?”

Many workers believe this is not the fault of the company, but when the new rule was updated their anger led to a strike. Very few workers in the manufacturing industry are able to work until retirement age. Therefore, without social insurance, it is difficult to make a living.

“I believe the government should petition the National Assembly to edit Article 60 so that workers can actively choose a policy based on realistic circumstances,” commented Mr. Bui Si Loi, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Social Affairs of the National Assembly.

Pou Yuen is a member of the Pou Chen Group, a leading footwear corporation in Taiwan, and one of the largest footwear manufacturers worldwide. In Vietnam, Pou Chen have four member companies. The total value of these companies is about $430 million, of which more than $240 million is from land rights. The total area of the three factories in Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 300ha.

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