Vietnam Labour Update #79

Ngày đăng: 06/10/2020

Quang Tri bus drivers and ticket sellers strike: As reported in Lao Dong and Thanh Nien (both Vietnamese), workers on the Dong Ha City - Ho Xa Town route (in Quang Tri Province, North Central Vietnam) began striking on October 3, due a change in policy by the company which runs buses on the route, Hoan My Trading and Services. The company had announced that, from October 3, they would rearrange the bus times, and workers would be paid a percentage of the revenue. The change would mean that drivers and ticket sellers would have to work longer hours (from 8 hours per day to 10 hours per day) for lower incomes (from 6 million dong per month to 4.5 million dong per month), so they went on strike. In response, the company said that they were only trialling the new regulations, and that they would no longer be implemented. Workers, however, said they would not return to work until the company had provided a written commitment that the new policy would not be implemented. When the articles were published, on October 3, workers had not returned to work.

Sanna Khanh Hoa FC football players strike: On October 2, a number of players from this football club (based in Khanh Hoa Province, South Central Vietnam) went on strike, having not been paid money they had been promised. The club currently plays in V.League 2, the second tier of Vietnamese football. It is in a financial crisis; players' salaries have been cut 55% since the beginning of the year, and three players have been sold to Ho Chi Minh City FC in order to raise money. Bong Da Plus (Vietnamese) reports that players had gone on strike on September 16, and negotiated an agreement as a result. On October 2, however, some players went on strike again, refusing to take part in training, having not been paid the money they were promised. A later article in Bong Da Plus (Vietnamese) says that, on October 4, players agreed to return to work, having been promised that they would be paid the following week. They said, however, that if they are not paid before their next game, against Pho Hien FC on October 8, they will refuse to go out onto the pitch.

Thousands of app drivers unable to earn money as Mobifone network cuts out: On September 29, Mobifone's network in Ho Chi Minh City cut out from 4pm to 9pm. As a result, Zing (Vietnamese) reports that thousands of drivers for ride hailing and delivery apps were unable to earn money during the rush hour—the time of day when they can make the most—so lost a significant chunk of their daily income.

1,035 Namyang International workers agree to leave their jobs following strike: Lao Dong (Vietnamese) this week reported on the resolution of a previously unreported dispute (or at least, I haven't been able to find any previous reports of it). On September 19, this Korean-owned garment factory (employing 1,050 workers and located in Amata Industrial Zone, Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province, in southern Vietnam) announced that, due to difficulties caused by COVID-19, the company was suspending production and all labour contracts. If workers agreed to formally leave their jobs, they would receive an extra 2 months' salary, 50% Tet bonus, and all other benefits, including social insurance contributions, would be properly paid. On September 21, 1,000 of the workers went on strike demanding 6 months' basic salary, a redundancy payment of 1 month for every year they had worked at the factory, support for workers' young children, Tet bonuses and all other payments. That same day, a taskforce led by the Dong Nai provincial Labour Federation and also involving the Bien Hoa Industrial Zones Union negotiated with workers and management. The management, however, said they would have to consult with the company (the factory belongs to Namyang, a large conglomerate with many factories and enterprises), and would have a decision by September 23. 

On September 23, the company announced a more generous offer: workers who agreed to leave would receive 3 months' salary, 50% Tet bonus, extra redundancy payments, payments for all remaining annual leave, full September salaries, and all other benefits, including social insurance. Pregnant workers would receive 4 months' salary; on this last point, workers did not agree. By September 25, 1,035 had agreed to leave the company, while 15 pregnant workers were still negotiating.

Previously unreported strikes in Tien Giang Province in the third quarter of 2020: On October 1, the Tien Giang Labour Federation (a province in the Mekong Delta) organised an event to reflect on its activities during the third quarter of 2020. This was reported in a short article in Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese). Normally, I wouldn't deem this newsworthy enough to put in the newsletter, but this time the article mentions 2 strikes which had not been previously reported (or, as above, which I have not seen any previous mention of). One was at Mekong Fibre, a Hong Kong-owned factory in Long Giang Industrial Zone, Tan Phuoc District. Workers went on strike after 3 Chinese experts were brought to work at the company from August 1, but the company had not provided information about their health situation, and they had not quarantined for 14 days, as they should have done according to regulations. After the intervention of the Labour Federation, the Chinese nationals were quarantined for 14 days. The second strike was at Hua Chang Vina (a manufacturer of rubber products, also in Long Giang Industrial Zone). On September 11, workers went on strike over wages and bonuses. The Labour Federation intervened, organising a dialogue between workers and management and answering workers' queries.

More discussion over 2% union tax: Discussions over whether to revise the 2% union tax which enterprises have to pay from their basic wage bill (see newsletters #66, #73, #77, and #78) continued last week. On September 29, the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs met to discuss the revisions to the Trade Union Law. An article in Lao Dong (Vietnamese)—which, it should be remembered, is the paper of the central VGCL office—portrays the meeting as one in which everybody agreed on the need to revise the law to make it appropriate for the new situation—especially the parts about the structure and management mechanisms of the VGCL—but quotes a number of delegates who argued that the 2% union tax should be maintained at its current level, as this is essential for providing support to workers. A report of the meeting on the National Assembly's website (Vietnamese), however, is more mixed; it says that some delegates raised questions about the 2% tax, such as what will happen once Worker Representative Organisations are legalised in January 2021, and saying that the VGCL needs to be clearer about what money from the tax is used for.

Essex lorry deaths trial begins: Today (October 5), the trial of those involved in the lorry deaths tragedy, in which 39 undocumented Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry in Essex, UK (see newsletters #32, #33, #34, #38, #74 and #76), begins. This has frequently been referred to as a human trafficking case, but none of the defendants have been charged with trafficking. In an article for Open Democracy (English), Emily Kenway explains that this is because there is no evidence of trafficking. The victims knew what they were getting into, searching for ways to make a living, so the blame lies with a brutal border regime and exploitative political economy which leaves the migrants few other options.

Source: Vietnam Labour Update by Joe Buckley 

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