Workers End Strike At Nike Shoe Maker’s Plant

Vietnam shoe factory employees wanted a pay increase to meet country's rising inflation rate; company agreed to a $4.50 transportation allowance.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Some 14,000 striking workers returned to a plant that makes sneakers for Nike Inc. on Monday after receiving a pay increase to help cushion the impact of Vietnam's rising inflation rate, a company official said.
 
The five-day strike at the South Korean-owned Tae Kwang Vina plant ended after management agreed to give workers a $4.50 monthly transportation allowance, said Vu Dinh Quan, the company's human resource manager.
 
The company also agreed to improve the food at the factory cafeteria, Quan said.
 
The plant in Dong Nai, some 19 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, employs more than 14,000 workers, most of them young rural women. It is one of 10 contractors that produce shoes for Nike in Vietnam.
 
''We are pleased that factory management and workers were able to openly discuss grievances and quickly reach resolution,'' said Chris Helzer, a Nike spokesman said Monday.
 
Nike reported a 51 percent rise in profits last month during its first quarter. In the most recent fiscal year, Nike made $1.5 billion on record sales of $16.3 billion.
 
Prices in Vietnam, southeast Asia's fastest growing economy, are 10 percent higher than they were a year ago. The government has promised to increase the minimum wage by roughly 12 percent, starting in January.
 
As inflation has picked up in recent years, strikes have become more common, with workers demanding higher pay and better work conditions. Last year, workers in Vietnam went on strike nearly 400 times.
 
''Inflation is very high now, and it definitely affects our workers a lot,'' Quan said.
 
The average salary of workers at the Tae Kwang Vina plant is about 30 percent higher than Vietnam's minimum wage of 845,000 Vietnamese dong ($53) per month.
 
The plant makes about 10 percent of the 75 million pairs of shoes that Nike produces in Vietnam each year, according to Nike.
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