Following the labor unrest in China which resulted in minimum wage raises in at least nine Chinese provinces and cities, similar worker dissatisfaction and dispute grow in many South East Asian countries.
In Cambodia, factory workers are to stage a three-day strike this month to demand for a higher minimum wage. In a country with one of the lowest minimum wage in the world, an average garment worker earns 50 USD a month. Although the government has proposed a 5 USD raise, the Free Trade Union remains firm on the strike plan, unless the minimum wage is raised to 70 USD. In Vietnam, thousands of workers in a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory held a strike demanding better pay and benefits. Earlier this year, the Vietnamese government has already raised minimum wage for workers at foreign-owned company to 52.50 USD. Likewise, in Laos, the monthly minimum wage was raised last year from 35 USD to 42 USD.
John Ritchotte, of the International Labour Organisation, said that disputes like these are common in the region. “Even in those countries without independent unions, such as Vietnam and Laos, disputes occur, particularly during periods of high inflation. The number of disputes has grown substantially over the past five years,” he said.
Chinese pay disputes mirrored across region [Financial Times, 4 July 2010]
China Provinces Raise Minimum Wages to Curb Disputes [Bloomberg Businessweek, 1 July 2010]