Massive Strike at Adidas Supplier in Vietnam


Between the dates of 24th-29th June, about 93,000 workers from Pou Yuen Vietnam Company went on strike for better working conditions. Their brave action encouraged another shoe factory in close proximity to also strike. Pou Yuen was a subsidiary of Pou Chen Group, the world’s leading footwear manufacturer. It is reported that Adidas is one of the major buyers of Pou Yuen in Vietnam. While exhilarated by the success in mobilization in the strike, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) are deeply worried about the plight of the workers at Pou Yuen. The strike ended on 29thJune after the strong intervention from the local government. About 20 current and former workers were arrested. Both Adidas and Pou Chen Group have not released any information about the settlement of the strike.

According to a trusted media source, the strike erupted because of the low wages and an unfair bonus system. Adidas wrote in the code of conduct that “wages are essential for meeting the basic needs of employees and reasonable savings and expenditure. We seek business partners who progressively raise employee living standards through improved wage systems, benefits, welfare programmes and other services, which enhance quality of life.” The strike reflects that the beautiful promise by Adidas is mere rhetoric. Adidas must translate the pledge to real action, by meeting our demands (stated below) or by revealing an alternate strategy to attain the promise that was written in their code of conduct.

Three young labour activists named Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Do Thi Minh Hanh have been sentenced to 7-9 years of imprisonment for their involvement in a strike at My Phong Shoe Factory last year. This case makes SACOM gravely concerned about the conditions of the arrested workers at Pou Yuen. SACOM requests Adidas and Pou Yuen should use their influence for the release of the workers.

A massive strike with 93,000 participants shows the accumulated resentment from the workers. With an effective communication channel, or a genuine trade union, workers do not need to render strike as the last resort for rights defending.

The Pou Yuen strike is a valuable demonstration that workers should be united to fight for the dignified jobs. To support the Pou Yuen workers, SACOM demands Adidas to:

– give a public account on the strike at Pou Yuen and disclose the terms of settlement;

– ensure no workers will be retaliated for their involvement in the strike; and

– raise the unit price at Pou Yuen and other suppliers and ensure workers can earn a living wage.

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior  is a Hong Kong-based human rights NGO.

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