The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 7           February 20, 2006  
On the Picket Line
Workers strike in Vietnam,
demand higher wages

Since late December tens of thousands of workers in Vietnam have participated in wildcat strikes to demand higher wages. These job actions have swept through the industrial zones surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.

In early January the Vietnamese government issued a decree raising the minimum wage in foreign-owned factories to $45 a month, a 40 percent increase that was to start February 1. Then the country’s prime minister postponed the raise until April, sparking new strikes.

To attract foreign investors the government lowered workers’ monthly wages in 1999 from $45-$50 to around $35. While most of the affected factories are owned by East Asian companies, the European Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Vietnamese prime minister reminding him that business had come to his country because “the workforce is not prone to industrial action.”

—Brian Williams  
Taxi drivers in Ontario strike
to reduce 84-hour workweek

WINDSOR, Ontario—Some 332 cab drivers have been on strike against Veteran Cab since January 11. The workers, who are members of Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 195, are fighting for one day off per week and against a raise in their lease payments for the cars. They are currently working 84-hour weeks. “Last year four guys died from stress and seven had a heart attack. The hours are too long,” said Haidar Aouli, chairperson of the local unit. The drivers reported that several pro-union workers had their cars spray-painted and tires slashed.

“The owner is trying to break the union, which we’ve had for four years, but they won’t succeed,” Aouli stated. Strikers reported getting support from unionized workers at a nearby funeral home, government workers, and CAW-organized auto workers. They said flying pickets are preventing a small number of scab drivers from picking up fares.

On February 3, the drivers rejected by an 83 percent margin the company’s latest offer. To win support, they’re putting 50 free taxis on the road.

—Natalie Doucet  
Striking laundry workers
in California win support

COLTON, California—More than a month into their strike for higher wages and a pension, some 300 members of UNITE HERE at the Angelica industrial laundry here are winning broader support throughout the region. In addition to maintaining a large picket line and makeshift kitchen outside the plant, they have begun informational picketing at the hospitals that receive linen service from Angelica.

Adelaida Vega, who has worked at the Colton facility for 25 years, said that at the San Bernadino and Loma Linda hospitals some of the nurses and staff joined their picket in solidarity. Paula Magaña, who works on pressing machines, said she and other strikers have been speaking to union bodies in the region, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the teachers union.

On Sunday afternoon, January 29, more than 50 strikers, family members, and supporters were picketing and congregating in front of the plant. Bob Dausilio, president of Alhambra Fire Fighters Local 1578, was cooking up hamburgers that his union had donated. “It’s not right what this company is doing,” he said. “We’re all union people and have to stick together.”

—Naomi Craine  
Alabama auto workers vote
to be represented by UAW

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—After months of stalling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in mid-January ruled that the majority of workers at Plastech Engineered Products in McCalla, Alabama, had voted to be represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW). Plastech makes parts for vehicles produced at the Mercedes auto plant in Vance.

The election took place October 24 last year. NLRB official Douglas Marshall said the ballots were counted January 6 with a final tally of 91 in favor of the UAW and 42 against.

In November 2004 workers at the plant had approved union representation for the 160 employees through a union-card signing effort. The NLRB later nullified this after a challenge filed by the Burr & Forman law firm claimed that some workers were misled into signing the cards.

—Maurice Williams  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home