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Vietnam Labour Update #87

Ngày đăng: 03/12/2020

Update on Banh Xeo Mien Trung case: An update on this case, reported in last week's newsletter. On the afternoon of November 23, the Yen Phong district police provided information about their initial investigation, reported in Tuoi Tre (Vietnamese). Vo Van D., the 21 year old victim, is from Quang Ngai province (in south-central Vietnamese) and was hired in February this year. Truong Quang Duy, the 14 year old victim, is also from Quang Ngai. He had stopped going to school, his mother had passed away and his father was seriously ill, so nobody was taking care of him. His 18 year old brother, who had worked with the owner of Banh Xeo Mien Trung for 3 years, took him from Quang Ngai to work at the eatery at the beginning of September this year. The female owner, Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, admitted in an interview with police that she had used violence against the two workers. She said that they were both lazy in their work, kept their living quarters dirty, and often stole food. She also suspected Duy of stealing money on many occasions. She therefore hit them, and attacked them with items such as a fish scale scraper and a knife, as a deterrent. Dang Van Cuong, a lawyer, told Lao Dong (Vietnamese) that Tuyet could be jailed for up to three years. As of November 27, Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reported that Duy was still being treated in hospital, but a doctor said he was recovering well.

Quarry landslide kills one worker and injures another: The accident occurred at around midday on November 27, at a quarry in Chau Quang commune, Quy Hop district, Nghe An province, in north-central Vietnam. As reported in Phap Luat Online (Vietnamese), the quarry belongs to Trung Hai - Nghe An Trading and Minerals (THNA). The accident occurred in the motorbike park. One worker was injured, and as of November 28 was still in hospital. Another worker was killed, and his body has been returned to his family. Authorities are investigating. Nguyen Trung Hai, the president of the company's administrative council, tells the paper that the company is better than others with regard to health and safety, trains workers every year, and provides proper safety clothing.

In related new, Dan Tri (Vietnamese) reports that Nghe An province has had 68 workplace accidents over 2018-2020 (a reduction of 6, equivalent to 8%, compared to the 2015-2017 period). 73 workers were injured (a reduction of 17 and 19%), including 18 fatalities (a reduction of 3 people, 14%) and 33 serious injuries (a reduction of 17 people, 34%), and causing damage of over 3.7 billion dong. The main causes of the accidents were companies not training workers properly, not providing them with satisfactory equipment, and workers not following regulations.

Why is it so difficult to deal with enterprises who refuse to pay social security?: Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) asked this question, related to the issue that very few enterprises have been prosecuted for non-payment, reported in last week's newsletter. There are three articles in the 2015 Criminal Code, which have been implemented since a 2019 resolution, which make non-payment of social, unemployment and health insurance a criminal offence. Up until October 2020, social security agencies had requested prosecution of 300 enterprises for non-payment. Only four, however, have been prosecuted.

A number of representatives of local social insurance offices have said that the problem is with getting enough evidence that an offence has been committed, collecting documents, and being unsure about what constitutes an offence. For example, if an enterprise pays off their social security debts but not the interest that has accrued on them, or if an enterprise does not pay because they are facing difficulties, lots of social security offices are unsure whether these cases should be referred to the police. In addition, once a case has been reported, the police request that the social security offices provide a number of documents, such as labour contracts and salary scales, which are very hard to collect. A representative of the Ministry of Public Security says that there needs to be more discussion and exchanges between the police and social security offices to try and resolve some of these issues.

Concerns about Tet bonuses: There have been a number of article this week covering concerns about Tet (Lunar New Year) bonuses. In 2021, Tet will fall on February 12. Traditionally, workers receive a 13th month bonus at this time. In recent years, however, many employers have tried to get away with paying lower bonuses, paying bonuses not in cash but in goods (often excess stock), or not paying bonuses at all. The Tet bonus has therefore become a flashpoint of class struggle, with strike numbers increasing every year around this time.

This year, concerns around the bonus have already started, and are amplified because of the the impacts of COVID-19; the worry is that employers will use this as an excuse to reduce or cancel bonuses. In addition, the 2019 Labour Code, which comes into force in January 2021, officially permits employers to pay Tet bonuses in goods rather than money. A number of articles have been published about these issues. All of the following are articles in Lao Dong (and all Vietnamese), to provide a taste of the reporting:

Many workers in Can Tho, a first-tier city in the Mekong Delta, are concerned about bonuses, and have asked enterprises to make clear the bonuses they plan to pay, saying that this will help stop workers leaving. The same was reported in Binh Duong, a province in southern Vietnam. The president of the Binh Phuoc provincial labour federation, in southern Vietnam, said that they are asking enterprises to release bonus plans, and some have already done so. The vice president of the Go Vap district labour federation, a district of Ho Chi Minh City, said that, due to difficulties caused by COVID-19, some enterprises are only going to pay half month salaries as bonuses. They have not, however, found any who are planning to give goods rather than money. Another article reports that many enterprises in the North Central region are planning to not pay bonuses, or pay low bonuses, due to the impact of COVID-19 and the recent storms. Others have not yet thought about Tet bonuses. The same has been reported in Central Vietnam. Other articles report specific enterprises, such as the Triple Vietnam garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City, which is expected to pay a full 13th month bonus. The VGCL has developed a programme to try and help workers, including with gifts, to stop them being exploited or disadvantaged.

Department of Overseas Labour (DOLAB) asks police to investigate and manage cases of companies claiming to provide labour export services without authority: Nguoi Lao Dong and Lao Dong (both Vietnamese) report that DOLAB has prepared a formal document asking the police to do this. There have been a number of recent cases of companies exploiting the demand of workers wanting to work abroad, claiming to provide these services but without permission. Many do this to scam people out of money. DOLAB also asked workers to be vigilant and properly research labour export companies to check they have the legitimate permissions before giving them money.

Labour export companies rush to apply for visas as Japan eases travel ban: VN Express International (English) reports that these companies have started applying for visas for their clients after Japan eased a travel ban on non-tourist arrivals from Vietnam.

Source: Joe Buckley

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