Vietnam Labour Update #78

Ngày đăng: 01/10/2020

Shop Vac Vietnam management flee, leaving unpaid wages, social insurance, and other debts: On September 19, the 7 foreign managers of this Hong Kong-owned vacuum cleaner manufacturer (employing 800 workers, located in Phu Thai Industrial Zone, Kim Thanh District, Hai Duong Province, in northern Vietnam's Red River Delta) suddenly disappeared. As reported in a number of places including Phap Luat and Lao Dong (both Vietnamese), the company owed workers around 10 billion dong in unpaid wages and social insurance contributions. In addition, it owed 12 billion dong to the company from which it was renting the land and factory, and even more to other companies which supplied goods to Shop Vac Vietnam. The manager of a company called Hong Phat Packaging, for example, said he was owed 20 billion dong by Shop Vac Vietnam.

On September 24, authorities, including the Hai Duong provincial industrial zones management board, provincial DOLISA office, and provincial Labour Federation, had a meeting with the company's legal representative, who informed them that on September 23, the parent company, Shop Vac Limited, had issued an official resolution to dissolve Shop Vac Vietnam. The resolution said the company would fulfill all duties and responsibilities to workers and the state, and that they would establish a liquidation board to deal with all the issues. However, at the meeting, the company's legal representative did not provide clear details about this, or about where the money to pay workers would come from.

The Hai Duong provincial industrial zones management board requested that Shop Vac: implement the withdrawal of investment according to correct legal procedures; give workers concrete information about the situation; commit to resolving payments and workers' rights and interests as soon as possible; establish the liquidation board before September 28; and work with others to protect assets. Shop Vac agreed.

Some extra pieces of information about the case can be read on Tuoi Tre News (English) although it doesn't include the information about the company being dissolved.

3,349 workplace accidents in first 6 months of 2020: According to Lao Dong (Vietnamese), MOLISA has reported this figure. The accidents caused 3,450 injuries. Workplaces where workers had contracts saw 256 fatal accidents, with 274 workers killed. Workplaces where workers did not have a contract had 104 fatal accidents, with 104 people killed.

Two mine accidents in Quang Ninh kill two workers: Thanh Nien (Vietnamese) reports that at 2:45pm on September 22, a wagon was transporting workers out of a mine belonging to the Mong Duong Coal Company (belonging to the state-owned Vinacomin, located in Cam Pha City, Quang Ninh Province, in northeastern Vietnam) at the end of their shift, when a 38 year old worker had a collision with a supporting structure in the mine. He was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead an hour later. The following day, September 23, at around 9:30pm, a 24 year old worker at the Khe Cham coal mine (also belonging Vinacomin and also located in Cam Pha City, Quang Ninh Province) slipped and fell to his death. Local authorities and the companies are supporting the workers' families. The second accident is being investigated.

Update on Phu Tho accident: An update on this construction accident, discussed in newsletter #75. The Phu Tho provincial Police Department, Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports, has decided to charge Le Quang Hung with the crime of violating regulations on health and safety. The article does not say what Hung's role was, just that it has been established that he had a relation to the accident.

More discussions on union finances: This week, the National Assembly's Standing Committee met to discuss the VGCL's financing, especially the enterprise union tax, which companies pay at 2% of their basic wage bill. This is against the backdrop of the trade union law being revised (see newsletters #66 and #73), and the recent controversy about the VGCL having a large amount of savings (see newsletters #76). According to Dau Tu (Vietnamese), the Committee stated the need to maintain VGCL finances, but requested that they report on the 2% enterprise tax, and on issues related to the management and use of union finances. The revised law will be put before the forthcoming session of the National Assembly. In related news, according to Phap Luat and Dan Tri (both Vietnamese), this week the VGCL once again defended its finances, saying that its money is used for legitimate activities, to support workers and defend their rights and interests.

More controversy at Ton Duc Thang: As I discussed in newsletter #74, in August the rector of the VGCL's Ton Duc Thang University, Le Vinh Danh, was suspended while claims against him were investigated. This week, Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reported that Danh has now been stripped of all his positions in the Communist Party. The VGCL said it is also implementing procedures to discipline Danh, but cannot provide more information at present. The actions are the result of the investigation into Danh's behaviour as rector of the university, which found serious mismanagement and incorrect implementation of Party directives.

In related news, Facebooker Le Nguyen Huong Tra reported (Vietnamese) that on September 23, Pham Dinh Quy, a lecturer in the faculty of sports science at Ton Duc Thang, was arrested by the Dak Lak provincial Police Department (a province in the Central Highlands) for fabricating stories which damage the rights and interests of others. A previous student of his, Hoang Minh Tuan, had been arrested on September 21. At the end of August 2020, they had reported Bui Van Cuong, former VGCL president and now Secretary of the Dak Lak Provincial Party Committee, accusing him of plagiarising his doctoral thesis. 

This is related to an incident which began in May 2019, when nearly 200 lecturers and professors at Ton Duc Thang wrote to authorities accusing the VGCL of mismanagement of the university, and of violating laws, policies and procedures. At that time, Bui Van Cuong was president of the VGCL. Shortly after, in July 2019, he was moved from that position to the one in Dak Lak. He is currently a candidate to become the next Minister of Information and Communications.

Tra, who posted the news on Facebook, suspects that the controversies at Ton Duc Thang have not ended.

Miss Vietnam works with ILO to call for decent work for youth: In an ILO video (Vietnamese with English subtitles), she calls for a stronger policy response to tackle the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. In related news, the ILO (article available in English and Vietnamese) has also launched a career guidance package for Vietnamese students aged 14-19.

Source: Vietnam Labour Update by Joe Buckley

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