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Vietnam Labour Update #90

Ngày đăng: 20/12/2020

My Tu workers strike and occupy factory:  This news has been reported in a number of places, including Lao DongNguoi Lao Dong, Phap Luat Online, Tien Phong, and VOV (all Vietnamese). This Korean-owned garment factory (located in Tan Uyen town, Binh Duong province, in southern Vietnam) had previously had around 1,000 workers. During COVID-19, however, the factory began to lay off workers, especially in July and August. Nguoi Lao Dong reports that the company now only has around 200 workers working to complete orders. When workers tried to claim social security payments and complete social security administrative procedures in order to get new jobs, they discovered that the company has not been paying social security contributions since May. This is despite the fact that contributions were still deducted from workers' salaries. The Binh Duong social security department said that, as of November 2020, the company owed over 9 billion dong. To complicate matters further, in November, the old owner of the company sold it to somebody else, and on November 17 removed some machinery from the factory. Workers have not been told whether they will be paid December salaries or given a 13th month Tet bonus, or which owner will pay it if so.

On December 11, workers went on strike to demand social security payments, and commitments to pay salaries and bonuses. In response, a taskforce consisting of the local DOLISA, police, social security and labour union federation was established. The taskforce went to meet with the company but the legal company representative did not attend the meeting. On the evening of December 15, workers occupied the factory overnight. The Binh Duong provincial labour federation said that the following morning, December 16, they had persuaded workers to disperse. Articles such as those in VOV and Phap Luat Online, published on December 16, say that the previous and current owners have not yet agreed anything with regard to paying social security, salaries, and bonuses, and that the taskforce is still trying to find a solution. The Nguoi Lao Dong article, which was published on December 20, reports that although the company has promised to resolve all social security payments this month, workers do not believe the promise. The Binh Duong provincial labour federation has said that any workers who are looking for new jobs will be introduced to enterprises that are recruiting.

Mass resignation at Daeseung Vina: According to Lao Dong (Vietnamese), the workforce at this Korean-owned garment factory (in Dong Lang industrial zone, Phu Ninh district, Phu Tho province, in northern Vietnam) had already reduced from 1,000 workers to 300 workers. Now, all the remaining workers, except office and machine maintenance staff, have submitted their resignations. The company has no orders, and owes workers a total of 20 billion dong in unpaid wages and other benefits. The president of the Phu Tho provincial industrial zones union tells the paper that the company is trying to pay workers their owed salaries and complete social security procedures for November, so that workers can look for new jobs. 

Fatal accident at rubber factory kills one: According to Phap Luat Online (Vietnamese), the accident occurred at around 9:30am on December 16, at an unnamed rubber processing factory (in Chau Duc district, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, in southeast Vietnam). A worker was hit by an iron frame while bringing latex out from the warehouse. His co-workers pulled him out and took him for emergency assistance, but his injuries were too serious. On the afternoon of December 16, the police said they were investigating.

Minh Quan pays all social insurance debts: Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that this controversial waste management company in Hanoi, which has seen recent strikes over late wage payments (see newsletters #86 and #89), has finally paid all of its social insurance debts until the end of November 2020, totalling 20 billion and 250 million dong. This represents 26 months of unpaid contributions. According to the Hanoi social security office, for over a year the company has been on the list of companies with the most prolonged and outstanding social security debts. Minh Quan has previously been fined for non-payment. The payment comes after the Ha Dong district people's committee—the district in which the company's head office is located—had ordered Minh Quan's debt to be collected drastically, in order to resolve workers' rights and interests.

Concerns about employers exploiting the new labour code to avoid paying Tet bonuses: Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the VGCL labour relations department, has expressed these concerns to Lao Dong (Vietnamese). He tells the paper that the new labour code, which comes into effect on January 1, 2021 and allows employers to pay Tet bonuses in goods rather than money for the first time (see newsletters #87 and #89), is flexible and appropriate for the market mechanism. Some employers will gift valuable items—motorbikes, cars, and apartments—to workers, while others which are facing serious difficulties will have to gift smaller goods, such as tulle netting, fish sauce, or bricks. However, some enterprises are trying to exploit the law; they are not facing difficulties, but still only want to give cheap goods to workers as Tet bonuses. Quang says that enterprises' Tet bonuses must be regulated, and that such regulations must have the involvement of unions and must be publicly announced. He said that enterprise-level unions must get involved in enterprises' Tet bonus regulations in order to avoid them exploiting the policies and causing hardship for workers.

Climate change and its impacts on work in Ca Mau: The Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA, part of MOLISA) and the German Hanns Seidel Stiftung (associated with the Christian Social Union in Bavaria) have released the results of research into how climate change is affecting work in Ca Mau province, in the Mekong Delta. Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that the research surveyed a number of enterprises involved in growing and processing rice, growing and processing fruit, and fishing and aquaculture. Groups of workers in these fields were also interviewed. The biggest impact was on work opportunities and employment stability. 58% of workers said their income had reduced due to salt drought (see this April 2020 English-language article in Al Jazeera for more information about the Mekong Delta's salt drought). 50% of workers said their working hours had increased due to salt drought, while 14% said it had decreased. 33.3% of enterprises said they had to suspend production from the end of 2019 until March 2020 due to drought and saltwater intrusion. 20% changed production models and products, while 26.7% changed production techniques. Of enterprises which cut their labour forces, unskilled and casual workers were the first to go, and often received no benefits after leaving work.

Latest CIRD industrial relations bulletin: The latest bulletin from the Centre for Industrial Relations Development—volume 33 & 34, which covers quarters II and III of 2020—has been released (available in English and Vietnamese). CIRD is part of MOLISA's Department of Industrial Relations and Wages. The bulletin contains pieces on COVID-19's impact on industrial relations, and various responses to it.

Analysis of app-based driver strike map: In New Mandala (English), I have published an initial analysis of the app-based driver strike map, mentioned in last week's newsletter.

Second national child labour survey: The ILO has published a document of key findings from the survey (available in English and Vietnamese), along with some infographics (English and Vietnamese) and an accompanying press release and video (available in English and Vietnamese). The headline figure is that Vietnam's child labour rate is 2% lower than the region's average.

ILO commends Vietnam on passage of the revised Law on Contract-Based overseas workers: In a press release (available in English and Vietnamese), they said the law, which was passed on November 13, 2020, improves protection for migrant workers. The ILO made the statement on International Migrants Day, December 18.

Source: Joe Buckley

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