The company recently increased its workers' salaries 100,000 Vietnamese dong (US$6.30) to an average monthly pay of 800,000 dong (US$50). The new salary is about 38 percent higher than the minimum wage for workers at Vietnamese owned firms, said an official with Sao Vang Ltd. Co., who only identified himself as Hieu, citing policy.

But the workers stopped working Monday to ask for more, he said.

"It is hard to say that they are demanding, given the fact that inflation is skyrocketing," Hieu said. "This is putting more and more pressure on businesses here."

Consumer prices in Vietnam are 21.3 percent higher than they were a year ago, according to government figures. A wave of strikes has hit companies across the country as the inflation rate has grown this year.

Sao Vang has been operating in Hai Phong City, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) east of Hanoi, since 1994. It currently employs about 6,000 workers. The company produces shoes for export to Europe and elsewhere in Asia.

The Associated Press - May 20, 2008