Strike at GLEECO Vietnam: As reported in Lao Dong (Vietnamese), on the morning of October 19, around 300 workers (almost all of them) at this Korean-owned garment factory (in An Duong district, Hai Phong city, in northeast Vietnam), went on strike to demand unpaid salaries and social insurance payments. The company has not paid social insurance properly since May 2019, and currently owes over 10 billion dong in social insurance contributions. They also did not pay September salaries to around 26 workers. After the strike broke out, the An Duong district Labour Federation and other authorities met with company management, who promised to pay the salaries by October 23, and said they would directly respond to workers' requests the following day, October 20, in order to get them to return to work. I have been unable to find any news confirming whether the strike was resolved.
Social Insurance Fund initiates prosecutions against 67 enterprises: Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that, in the first 9 months of 2020, the Vietnam Social Insurance Fund inspected social insurance policies and payments at 3,155 places. They found 18,772 workers whose social insurance contributions were not being properly paid by enterprises, totalling nearly 101.5 billion dong. In the same time period, the Social Insurance Fund sent documentation to authorities requesting to prosecute 67 enterprises for social insurance debts.
Rao Trang 3 investor says the company is helping the search and supporting families: Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports one of the founding partners of this company saying that the company is assisting in the aftermath of the disaster (see last week's newsletter). As of this afternoon (October 26), there are still 12 workers missing, while 5 bodies have been recovered (two of which have been identified). Le Van Hoa says the company has assisted authorities with the search, and is providing financial support to families of the victims.
Duy Tan University returns documents to a former employee: This university is currently embroiled in a scandal over unlawful termination of contracts and refusing to return documents to staff who leave (see last week's newsletter). Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that today (October 26), the university has returned documents to D. X. Kh, a former lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy. He had made a formal complaint to the Da Nang DOLISA office that his contract had been illegally terminated and his documents detained. Unexpectedly, a representative of the university contacted him on October 5 to say they would return his documents, but that they would do this in a cafe rather than at the office. This morning (October 26), they did return the documents. A representative from the DOLISA office said that the complaint is continuing to be dealt with, as returning the documents has not resolved all the issues.
Workers, facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19, falling into illegal loan shark traps: An article in Lao Dong (Vietnamese) this week focuses on this issue in Dong Nai province, in southern Vietnam. The provincial police say that this has become a serious issue due to COVID-19, where workers find themselves facing financial hardships and do not know where else to turn. Illegal loan sharks will lend large amounts of money, but with interest rates of 180%. When borrowers are unable to pay the money back, lenders threaten violence against them and their families. Recently, on October 12, the Bien Hoa City police (the capital of Dong Nai province) managed to destroy one such loan shark ring, arresting 4 people. Since the beginning of 2020, the Bien Hoa police have discovered, arrested and prosecuted 11 cases of this, involving 25 people.
Discussions over revisions to the law on Vietnamese workers working abroad under contract: On October 23, the 4th day of the National Assembly's 14th session, delegates debated revisions to this law (see newsletter #76). According to Vietnam+ (English), there were discussions over which organisations are eligible to send workers abroad, a fund for supporting overseas employment, and rights and responsibilities of guest workers and providers of guest worker services. According to Lao Dong (Vietnamese), Nguyen Thuy Anh, Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, said that some delegates said the law should include special policies for ethnic minorities, and additional policies for how those on low incomes can access preferential credit to pay the fees required to work abroad. Do Van Sinh, a member of the National Assembly's Economic Committee, said that labour export policies have been implemented well in the past, but need to be revised to respond to the requirements of the market. Sinh suggested that preferential loans to help guest workers with their fees should come with the commitment that workers will obey the law and return to Vietnam after their contracts end. If they do not, there should be sanctions against them. Bui Sy Loi, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, said that the law should ensure no overlap or duplication with other laws while still protecting workers' rights and interests.
Anniversary of Essex lorry deaths: October 23 marked the one year anniversary of this tragedy (see newsletters #32, #33, #34, #38, #74, #76 and #79). The BBC (English) report that Hackney Chinese Community Services, in London, held a memorial for the 39 dead. An article in the Conversation (English) discusses how UK-funded ads in Vietnam, telling people not to be tricked into human trafficking, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the issue, as migrants are not tricked into going to the UK, but choose to. On the same day, however, Gareth Ward, the British ambassador to Vietnam, wrote an opinion piece for VN Express International (English), recognising that in many cases, Vietnamese migrants attempting to reach the UK are not tricked, but know what they will face.
ILO research brief on how COVID-19 is affecting garment workers and factories in Asia and the Pacific: The brief (English) looks at a number of countries, including Vietnam. It finds that there were widespread lay-offs and loss of incomes, and ripple effects across a number of dimensions.
Source: Vietnam Labour Update by Joe Buckley