Measures needed to prevent labour disputes

07/11/2016
Labour disputes kept increasing over the past years and became more complicated, demonstrating a need for adjustment of related regulations and measures to improve relations between workers and employers. 

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the country recorded 3,146 strikes in 40 localities nationwide over the past three years. As many as 132 strikes were reported during the first six months of this year. 

A representative of the ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs said that disputes relating to the interests of each side are inevitable because of on-going changes in the labour market. 

"Labour disputes, especially strikes, have proven more complicated, particularly with any changes in policies relating to wage and social insurance. This was seen in a number of cases earlier this year," he said. 

Hundreds of workers of Inkel Ltd. Co in Me Linh district of Hanoi went on strike in February, after the company failed to increase their minimum wage as regulated and reduced their allowances. The dispute was only resolved after employers and employees negotiated, with help from Hanoi authorities. The company then agreed to increase wages for workers in line with current regulations, maintain allowances, and improve working conditions. 

In June, more than 350 workers of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group’s branch in central Quang Ngai province stopped working to ask for appropriate payment from their employer. After dialogues held between the two sides, the company agreed to adjust wages and arrange more reasonable working hours, while workers agreed to return to work. 

Experts said employers and workers must understand related policies and increase dialogue with each other. This is currently a weak point in labour relations, leading to strikes and causing problems for businesses and workers. 

Deputy Head of the Hanoi Industrial and Export Processing Zone Management Board, Nguyen Chi Hung, said workers themselves did not understand their interests and responsibilities. 

"Most Hanoi strikes were related to salary, working hours, and food safety and hygiene. But the strikes that resulted did not follow legal processes," he said. 

When labour disputes or strikes happen, local authorities must step in and handle them. 

"Inspections showed that only 160 out of 500 businesses signed collective labour agreements as regulated by the Labour Law," Hung said. "Workers did not know their rights and interests while working at enterprises." 

Head of the Department of Legal Affairs, Dang Duc San, said mechanisms exist to deal with labour disputes, but these procedures were not implemented and workers failed to follow regulations when striking. 

Deputy Head of the Labour Relation Board of the Vietnam Labour General Federation Le Dinh Quang said all strikes did not meet the Labour Law of 2012. This shows that some legal regulations were ineffective or not effective enough, particularly regulations on handling labour disputes and strikes. 

"The law should be adjusted to increase mechanisms related to dialogues and negotiations between employees and employers, but it should not be altered to reduce workers’ interests," he said. 

Increasing information dissemination to raise worker awareness of related laws and to increase punishment for violations was also needed, he said.
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