Vietnam Labour Update #85

Ngày đăng: 24/11/2020

Update on Da Nang bus strike: Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that in the evening of November 9, at a meeting to resolve this strike (reported in last week's newsletter), Quang An 1 committed to paying all wage and social security arrears within a month. On the morning of November 10, over 181 employees received their July salaries. The news was confirmed by Bui Thanh Thuan, deputy director of the Da Nang Department of Transport.

Fatal workplace accident at Song Lam cement: Tien Phong (Vietnamese) reports that at around 4pm on November 8, a worker died after an accident at this company (part of the Vissai Group, located in Bai Son commune, Do Luong district, Nghe An province, in north central Vietnam). Dao Danh Ha, the president of the Bai Son People's Committee, said that after hearing about the accident, authorities immediately went to the site. They are now further investigating the cause of the accident. At 11pm on November 8, the workers' body was returned to his family.

Dispute between KwangJin Wintec Vietnam and union branch president: The dispute, at this Korean-owned factory which specialises in manufacturing car seat heat sensors (located in Beautiful City industrial cluster, Tan Hiep district, Tan Uyen town, Binh Duong province, in southern Vietnam), began in October. Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that on October 15, the factory director asked Nguyen Thi Nga, an employee in the human resources department and the enterprise-level union president, to become a cleaner instead. On October 20, Nguyen Dinh Hai, the director of the company's human resources told Nga to clean a fence, but she refused. Hai then prepared a document saying that Nga had refused orders. On October 22, the director then told Nga to sit at a table outside, and since then she has not been allowed into the factory to work in the office. When it rains she has to run into the generator room. Nga says that the factory's behaviour has severely impacted her mental and physical health, and disrespected her. In addition, it has obstructed union activities. The company says that Nga made an error in her work so was asked to sit elsewhere. They deny that this has obstructed union activities.

On October 26, the Tan Uyen labour federation and other authorities had a meeting with the company director and asked the company to protect workers' jobs according to their contracts, and not illegally interfere with enterprise-level union activities. On November 4, the labour federation prepared a formal document requesting that the company not discriminate against union members, give Nga a position according to her contract, and allow her to undertake her responsibilities as the enterprise-level union president. The Binh Duong provincial labour federation are now taking further legal steps to protect Nga's rights and interests.

Workers having to be very strict with spending and take extra work: An article in Lao Dong (Vietnamese) this week looked at how industrial migrant workers in Hanoi survive on salaries of around 5 million per month. The article says that a single worker who works lots of overtime can just about manage, but they still have to be very strict with spending and make plans about what they need to use their money for. For workers who have children, however, the situation is even more difficult, and these workers need to cut out lots of activities, such as seeing friends, and find extra money to survive.

Another article in Lao Dong (Vietnamese) looks at some specific types of extra work that workers engage in, other than factory overtime, in order to make enough to live. First, it says that a lot of male workers work extra hours as app-based drivers, a dangerous job which workers accept in order to make a living. Second, the article says that female workers often undertake work in online sales. Some have even abandoned their primary job to do this full time, although income is not stable. They sell a wide variety of products, including shoes, make-up, and food. Finally, the article says lots of female workers take work in the beauty profession (especially hair and nails). They can learn a lot doing this, but need to pay quite expensive study fees first.

These articles are not particularly surprising or unusual (there are frequent articles about workers' difficult living situations), but they are more interesting for the time at which they come; after it has been decided that the minimum wage will not be raised next year, a move which the VGCL strongly opposed (see newsletters #66, #71, #74 and #84). Luat Vietnam (Vietnamese) reports that the National Assembly officially approved no minimum wage rise on November 12, as part of a vote on the state budget, with a 92.53% vote in favour.

National Assembly passes revised law on Vietnamese workers working abroad under contract: On November 13, 93.36% of delegates voted to approve the law. The news was reported in a number of places, including Dan Sinh, Lao Dong, and Nguoi Lao Dong (all Vietnamese). The law has 31 new points compared to the previous law. It regulates policies for sending guest workers overseas, and the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers. Among other things, the law: puts limits on the service fees that workers have to pay to be sent abroad (although these details will be further regulated by other decrees); bans workers from being employed in certain industries such as massage, jobs which involve regular contact with toxic substances, and hunting for wild animals; protects those who leave employment due to mistreatment, forced labour, or sexual harassment; and says workers can be fined for violating the regulations of Vietnam or the receiving country, and must return to Vietnam after their contract has ended.

Labour market starting to recover: An article in VN Express International (English) reports that production and new orders for export-oriented manufacturers are beginning to increase again. Consequently, many factories are looking to hire workers. This includes Pouyuen, which is hiring 2,000; in summer, the company laid off nearly 2,800 (see newsletter #65). Le Minh Tan, the director of Ho Chi Minh City DOLISA, said that it is estimated that in the last three months of the year, businesses in the city will recruit 62,000-65,000 employees. An optimistic set of articles in Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese, link to first article) focused on the nationwide labour market recovery; it said that enterprises are not only keeping workers and hiring new ones, but they are competing for workers so offering good salaries and benefits, and will be paying Tet bonuses.

Source: Joe Buckley

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