Protecting workers’ rights in Vietnam’s international integration


The Vietnamese working class actually came into being at the early time of the colonial exploitation by French colonialists (from 1897 to 1914). Centralized industrial zones in Hanoi, Sai Gon, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Vinh - Ben Thuy, Hon Gai made up an increasingly number of workers... In these circumstances, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL) was founded July 29, 1929, is a national trade union in Vietnam aiming to protect workers’ rights. All trade unions in Vietnam are required to affiliate to the VGCL, and the VGCL is one of the mass movements of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front. The position of the Vietnamese trade unions is acknowledged by the Constitution and laws of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the entire of workers and employees as well.
"The trade unions, being the socio-politic organization of the working class and the laboring people, in cooperation with government agencies, economic and social entities, take care of and safeguard the rights and interests of cadres, workers, employees and other laboring people; participate in State administration and social management, in the control and supervision of the State agencies, economic and social entities; educates cadres, workers,  employees and other laboring people to do their utmost for national construction and defense". (Article 10 of the 1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam)
Right after the promulgation of the Constitution, the Law on Trade Unions has been issued in order to affirm and clarify the roles, functions as well as rights and responsibilities of the trade union organization.
The Vietnamese trade union is an umbrella social-political organization voluntarily formed by working class, intellectualists and workers in order to mobilize, consolidate forces and build a working class strong in all aspects, to represent and protect lawful and legitimate rights and interests of workers, striving for building an independent and unified Vietnam towards the socialism. The Vietnamese trade union is member of both the political system and the Vietnam Fatherland Front. It is the centre for mobilization, unity, education, training, building of the contingent of workers and employees.
The Trade Union Law of 1990 was passed and promulgated at the early stage of the transitional period to a market economy in Vietnam. After nearly 20 years of coming into force, many provisions are no longer suitable to today's reality and need supplements, revision. With agreement from the National Assembly, recently the VGCL has taken the lead in drafting the trade union law (revised). After several drafts, many debates, discussions among trade unions, social partners, organizations concerned a final draft has been completed and submitted to the National Assembly (currently in session) for review and approval.
The amended Labor Code marked fundamental changes to one of the most important legal documents in protecting workers’ rights. The new Labor Code contains other equally important amendments which are expected to greatly improve the labor market and industrial relations in Viet Nam. The amended Labor Code, of course, protects the rights of employers, but more importantly, it better guards the rights and benefits of employees, who are always more vulnerable in labor, and industrial relations. In which, there are many changes like longer maternity leave for female workers, requirement for employers to provide adequate training to their employees, etc.
I further appreciate the new definition of wages in the amended Labor Code. Wages now include fixed salaries, allowances and bonuses. Employers will now have to pay insurance for their employees based on these wages. It is a significant difference from the current situation where enterprises try to divide their employees' income into many parts, with wages being only a fraction of the legal minimum. This helps save a great deal of money on insurance for employers while employees have to suffer.
The definition of minimum wages has also been addressed. It is now required that the minimum living standards be covered. Therefore, instead of adjusting minimum wages according to inflation, the Government will have to do a survey and research minimum living standards of different groups of people before setting new levels of minimum wages. Wages are the most problematic issue in the labor market and industrial relations today. Some 80 per cent of work disputes relate to wages. So if we have laws that arrange this issue properly, disputes and strikes will surely decrease.
Moreover, the most significant change in the law is labor negotiation, bargaining and work agreements giving an adequate amount of space for explanation and outlines imperative activities in order to improve labor relations in the country. With these amendments, many rights of workers have been protected and enforced by the government and the VGCL, typically, the right to strike. Over the years, the pattern of strikes has been relatively developed. The wave of strikes reached its first peak in 2008 with 762 strikes and has diversified into many forms.
On the international integration process, the VGCL has joined with the International Labor Organization (ILO) in many programs and activities to identify the role of the trade unions in the promotion and protection of the rights of Vietnamese migrant workers as well as foreign migrant workers in the country. An estimated 500,000 Vietnamese are working in more than 40 countries and territories around the world. The Government of Viet Nam has a clear policy to promote labor migration as an employment generation and poverty reduction strategy. The VGCL has a mandate to deal with labor issues and initiate the development of labor laws in order to protect the interest and rights of workers, including migrant workers.
However, throughout Vietnam’s integration into international economy, opportunists and criminals have been starting up groups in the name of ‘protecting labors’ or ‘charities’ such as “Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers” (2007), “Coalition to Abolish Modern Slavery in Asia” (2010) or “Free Viet Labor Federation” (2014) to cover their illegal activities including human – trafficking, financial aids fraud, etc. and even being for political ambitions.
Among those groups, Free Viet Labor Federation (FVLF) founded in 2014 by joining 3 others including the “Vietnam Independent Trade Union”, the “United Worker-Farmer Association of Vietnam” and the “Viet Labor Movement”. FVLF first led by Tran Ngoc Thanh who we all have known for many anti-Vietnam activities, and now it’s leader is Ngo Thi Ngoc Ngoan, nickname is Ca Dao. We should be aware of this groups and its’ members like Do Thi Minh Hanh, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Truong Minh Duc, Doan Viet Trung who were judged for violating the country’s laws and causing chaos and instability.
They always slander the propaganda against the State of Vietnam disguised as “humanitarian and charity activities”, the calling for the interference of other governments and non-governmental organizations in Vietnam’s affairs concerning labor and trade union, and sophisticated frauds targeting Vietnamese laborers.
They have been taking advantages of Western’s efforts on boosting civil-society’s role in developing countries like Vietnam in recent years. Besides, those groups have been certainly incited by the coming TPP agreement. Their common frame nowadays is to compile lists of every Vietnamese worker’s accidents or strikes to make a false image of Vietnam’s labor movement; distort state’s policies on worker’s rights and define themselves as ‘the lead independent unions’ to call for financial aids from NGOs and Western governments.
They have been also conducting activities in relation to conspiracies to overthrow the Vietnamese government by inflaming labor revolutions - the plot was once occurred in Poland in 1989. Many workers participating in strikes unveiled that they were paid to demonstrate and conduct interviews with scripts that exaggerating situations. The violence spreading-out from peaceful protests against China drilling rig oil in mid-2014 was a lesson for not only authorities but also workers who suffered from jobless and being unpaid due to companies’ destruction. 
      Supposedly could Vietnam reach the TPP agreement with the U.S and 10 other countries, Labor Chapter’s commitments fully implemented would bring considerable benefits for Vietnamese labor and improve worker’s living-standards in a long term. Yet the possibilities of these provisions being used to cover illegally activities could not be excluded! All people, especially workers, should be alert of these hostile groups and their filthy plots./.
Chia sẻ bài viết ^^
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All comments [ 10 ]

LawrenceSamuels 17/4/16 21:23

Workers want the minimum wage to be increased and the number of maximum annual overtime hours to remain unchanged.

Love Peace 17/4/16 21:26

25 years of transition from a planned economy to a market economy have definitely changed the pattern of industrial relations in Vietnam.

MaskOf Zero 17/4/16 21:33

For TTP, Vietnam should review the law, policy and regulations to better protect migrant workers throughout the migration process and to enable their successful return and reintegration.

John Smith 17/4/16 21:34

The Government of Viet Nam has a clear policy to promote labor migration as an employment generation and poverty reduction strategy.

Deck Hero14 17/4/16 21:35

A longer maternity leave is another important change in the Labor Code. Priority should be given to newborns, who need to be consistently breastfed in their first six months.

Pack Cassiopian 17/4/16 21:37

One of the key changes is the extension of the law's protection of new groups of workers. The new Labor Code recognizes "labor sub-leasing" as a new pattern of employment.

Only Solidar 17/4/16 21:39

The Government, together with social partners, will need to identify the minimum living needs. It will require the employer representatives and trade union representatives to be able to speak on behalf of the various different groups that exist in their communities.

yobro yobro 17/4/16 21:40

Workers in companies where a trade union does not exist may be able to seek the support of the upper-level trade unions on matters union requiring representation.

Gentle Moon 17/4/16 21:41

With these changes, workers who used to go on wild-cat strikes may be able to rely on the procedures provided by the laws to raise their concerns and demands, reducing the need for such strikes.

Jane smartnic 17/4/16 21:42

Workers' health and children's futures are more important, so we think the change is necessary for the whole society.

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