Vietnamese workers end strike at factory for McDonald's toys

Saturday, May 14, 2005

HANOI, Vietnam -- Nearly 10,000 workers who make toys for McDonald's Happy Meals returned to work Friday after staging a two-day strike at a factory in central Vietnam to protest alleged unfair and abusive labor practices, officials said.

The strike, which ended after a settlement was reached Thursday, involved about 9,300 laborers, mostly young women, said Phan Viet Thong, chairman of the Danang City Federation of Labor. The workers walked off the job Wednesday and gathered outside the Hong Kong-owned factory, Keyhinge Toys Vietnam Co. Ltd., Thong said.

The strike was widely reported in Vietnam's state-controlled media, which said the workers alleged that they were forced to work 12-hour days with no overtime and were allowed only 45 minutes for lunch. They also complained that their wages were cut if they visited the restroom more than twice a day or if a visit to the doctor took longer than two hours.

The company has agreed to give the workers a 10 percent pay rise, limit their working hours to 10 hours daily, pay overtime, and give them Sunday off, said Thong, chairman of the city labor federation.

McDonald's spokeswoman Anna Rozenich would not comment on specific worker allegations but said "all the issues have been resolved, whatever they are."

The Danang facility produces only a portion of McDonald's Happy Meal toys, she said.

Y.P. Cheng, the owner of Keyhinge Toys, said in a statement that the dispute had been resolved, but he did not comment on the workers' allegations.

The workers received a pay increase from 2,500 dong (16 cents) to 2,750 dong (17.5 cents) an hour, labor leader Thong said. The company also agreed to issue more bathroom passes and to order supervisors to improve the overall factory atmosphere, he said.

The strike wasn't the first labor dispute involving the toy company, the largest employer in Danang -- once the site of a large U.S. military base and a popular holiday spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

In 1998, Keyhinge Toys was accused of paying workers less than the government-mandated minimum wage and failing to set up a labor union despite multiple requests from the Danang City Federation of Labor.

At the time, McDonald's said there had been inspections at the plant, which opened in 1996, and that an audit by SGS Switzerland found the factory met Vietnamese safety regulations.

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