'Strikes rising' as inflation soars in Vietnam

TN News

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The number of strikes in Vietnam is soaring, official media said Wednesday (May 18), as workers in the country struggle to cope with one of the world's highest rates of inflation.

In the first three months of this year there were 220 work stoppages, compared with 216 for all of 2010, Vietnam News quoted a senior labor leader as saying.

Mai Duc Chinh, the deputy director of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said workers' wages had not kept pace with rising prices.

"They therefore require a pay rise and more allowances, such as help with their lunch and traveling costs," Chinh was quoted as saying.

In principle, workers need permission 20 days ahead of time before going on strike in Vietnam.

According to government figures late last year the average monthly income in Vietnam was VND1,365,000 (US$65). Official estimates put April's inflation figure at 17.51 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.

The Vietnamese government, which said fighting inflation is its top priority, has tightened monetary policy and set a series of targets to help stabilize an economy facing challenges including a struggling currency and a trade deficit.

Poverty will rise in Vietnam as a result of soaring inflation this year so the government must stay the course on price-busting policies, John Hendra, the outgoing head of the United Nations mission in Vietnam, has said.

A UN study showed that poverty increased by 2.1 per- cent after Vietnam's last bout of high inflation in 2008.

"It will increase the poverty rate. Whether that's one or two percent, or more, we will see," Hendra said.

Increases in the poverty rate run counter to the trend in Vietnam since economic reforms started to take root in the early 1990s. Since then, the rate has fallen to around 10 percent from nearly 60 percent.

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