Vietnam’s Labor Strikes Reach 762 in 2008

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Jan. 12 – A Vietnamese labor union official said that a record of 762 labor strikes hit the country last year, majority of them coming from the south's textile and footwear plants.

The number is a sharp increase from 2007's 541 strikes because more workers struggled to cope with inflation in a low-wage economy.

"High inflation made the lives of low-income workers more difficult," a Vietnam General Confederation of Labor official, who asked not to be named, told Thanh Nien News. "The strikes were mainly for higher wages and benefits."

Vietnam's economic growth slowed to 6.2 percent last year from 2007's 8.5 percent.
Last year, annual inflation reached 23 percent, and food prices jumped to twice that rate when workers oly earned an average of US$50 a month.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs forecasts that more than 150,000 workers will be laid off this year because of the global economic slowdown.Labor disputes usually happen before the start of the Tet Lunar New Year, when consumer prices tend to spike and workers spend money to travel home to be with their families.