Compulsory underwear inspections have cost a factory in Vietnam more than US$40,000 (HK$301,000) in fines amid charges it has violated the 'human dignity' of its workers. Dong Nai labour court officials yesterday confirmed that more hearings were still pending following initial pay-offs to 11 former workers of the Taiwanese-owned Vi Hao lingerie factory - a major exporter - this month. The women were among 19 workers illegally sacked after complaining about inspections and received US$3,800 each in compensation after a court ruled in their favour. 'They have taken the money but no one wants to go back to work,' a court official said. The court heard that in October 1997 female security guards at the factory started to examine the underwear of some female workers in a search for missing production samples. The employees claimed that officials believed workers were stealing the samples by slipping them on under their work clothes. Eventually 100 women faced checks. Company officials said they did not order the inspections but that the security guards came up with the idea themselves fearing widespread theft. Appeals are expected but Labour Court sources have not ruled wider action in criminal courts. Company officials could not be contacted yesterday. The case is one of the more bizarre in what social workers claim is a rising number of disputes between Vietnamese workers and foreign factory managers. South Korean and Taiwanese garment and shoe manufacturers have borne the brunt of complaints so far. Last month a South Korean security chief at the Hyundai shipyard construction site was accused of beating a local employee unconscious in a case still being investigated.