Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung was given the heaviest sentence of nine years while two others, Doan Huy Chuong and Do Thi Minh Hanh, were each sentenced to seven years in jail, said an official of Tra Vinh people's court in the southern Mekong Delta.

The maximum penalty for the charge of disrupting security is 15 years in prison.

The official, who declined to be named, did not give further details about Tuesday's trial.

US-based Human Rights Watch said the trio, all in their 20s, were arrested in February for distributing anti-government leaflets and helping workers to organise strikes for better pay.

Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourers) newspaper said they instigated several strikes in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai province between last December and February. They were also charged with distributing "reactionary" leaflets in the two areas, the paper added.

Human Rights Watch said Chuong was first arrested in October 2006 after helping to found the United Workers-Farmers Organisation (UWFO), which Vietnam has banned. State media said he was later sentenced to 18 months in jail for "spreading distorted information to undermine the state".

Communist Vietnam bans independent labour organisations, while trade unions are under strict government control.

Agence France Presse - October 27, 2010


No end in sight for Vietnam strike

Hanoi - A strike by over 2,000 workers at a South Korean-owned footwear factory in Vietnam reached its seventh day Wednesday with no end in sight, labour and company officials said.

The length of the strike at the Samil Tong Sang Company shoe plant was unusual for Vietnam, where most strikes are resolved in a few days with the intercession of government-affiliated union officials.

'There has been no progress, no agreement between the company and workers so far,' said Nguyen Van Duc, deputy chairman of the labour union in Thuan An district of Binh Duong province. The union is mediating between the company and the workers who called the wildcat strike.

District police official Hoang Anh Tuan said the workers, who walked off their jobs on Thursday, were protesting peacefully, but tensions rose when the company called in the strike's leaders and threatened them.

The workers were not agreed among themselves on how much of a salary increase they were demanding, which made negotiations difficult, company officer Le Thi Huyen said.

The state-run newspaper Lao Dong reported most of the workers were asking for an increase of 200,000 dong (10 dollars) per month.

Van Thi Mong Linh of the company's personnel department said the firm was already paying 1.32 million dong per month, 130,000 dong higher than the government-set minimum wage.

Talks between labour officials and the company were scheduled to continue Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Labour, 96 wildcat strikes took place in Vietnam in the first quarter of this year.

Ministry figures showed strikes dropped from 650 in 2008 to 216 in 2009 and most involved companies in the textile and garment sectors, which have foreign investors.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - October 27, 2010