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Vietnam Labour Update #94

Ngày đăng: 31/01/2021

Strike at Youngor Smart Shirts Vietnam (YSS): As reported in a number of places, including Dan Tri, Lao Dong, Nong Nghiep (all Vietnamese) and Chao Hanoi (English), on the morning of January 13, 2,800 of 3,000 workers at this Hong Kong-owned garment factory (located in My Trung industrial zone, Nam Dinh province, in northern Vietnam) went on strike. The main cause of the strike was the company announcing that they would not pay any Tet bonuses this year. In previous years the company has paid the traditional 13th month salary - a bonus equivalent to one month's basic wage (in this case, 4.5 million dong). Over the past year, because of the impacts of COVID-19, the company has also cut a lot of other benefits. After hearing of the strike, the industrial zone management board and the industrial zone trade union went to the factory to help negotiate. Following a meeting with authorities, the company proposed paying a Tet bonus of one million dong per worker and raising piece rates by 6% in the coming year. Workers, however, rejected this, and continued to demand a full Tet bonus.

A later article in Lao Dong (Vietnamese) reports that the company eventually gave in to this demand, announcing on January 14 that they would pay Tet bonuses equivalent to one month's wages. All workers had returned to work by the morning of January 15.

82 workers at CCIPY hospitalised due to food poisoning: On January 13, 82 workers from this electronics factory (belonging the US-based Coilcraft Group and located in An Phu industrial zone, Tuy Hoa city, Phu Yen province, in south-central Vietnam) were hospitalised after eating lunch from the factory canteen. As reported in a number of places, including Lao Dong, Tuoi Tre, and VOV (all Vietnamese), workers began to feel nausea, headaches, stomach pain and tightness in their chests about 10 minutes after eating at around 11:30. 321 of them felt ill, and 82 of the most serious cases, including 10 pregnant workers, were admitted to hospital. The Phu Yen department of food safety has taken test samples from the company's kitchen in order to investigate. Later articles in Thanh Nien and VOV (both Vietnamese) report that by the morning of January 14, most workers had been discharged from hospital.

App-based drivers facing Tet hardships: An interesting article in Thanh Nien (Vietnamese) this week looks at the hardships which app-based drivers are going through regarding Tet. The article notes that, as many people have lost jobs due to COVID-19, more and more have become drivers. At the same time, however, the number of customers has fallen. Consequently, drivers have seen a drop in incomes of up to one third, and have to work much longer hours (14 to 15 hours a day) to earn enough to survive. Some drivers have decided not to return to their hometowns for Tet this year, as they do not have enough money and cannot afford to lose income from taking a few days off to celebrate the holiday. Others have drastically limited their holiday plans compared to previous years. Many drivers who were previously industrial workers but were laid off due to COVID-19 had been used to receiving Tet bonuses of a few million dong each year. This year, however, as they are now app-based drivers so technically self-employed, they will not receive any bonuses. They make just enough to live on but do not have any spare cash. On the other hand, some drivers who are young and single, without families or children and so with few financial responsibilities, have decided to return to their hometowns for Tet much earlier, saying that as they would only make a few dozen thousand dong per day from continuing to work, it is not worth it.

MOLISA stresses "dual goals" of fighting COVID-19 and socio-economic recovery and development in 2021: At a conference on January 11, MOLISA put forward its directions and key tasks for 2021. As reported in Dan Sinh (Vietnamese), these revolve around the need to develop a flexible and adaptive labour market, and increase the skills of Vietnam's workforce. At the same time, they also want to develop a comprehensive social security system to reduce poverty and support the poor and unemployed.

A separate article in Dan Sinh (Vietnamese) looks at ten of MOLISA's achievements over the 2016-2020 period. These are: passing improved laws and policies, including the 2019 Labour Code; unifying state management of vocational education; breakthroughs in the field of supporting people with services to the revolution; creating jobs, which has made Vietnam one of the countries with the lowest unemployment rates in the world; applying a multidirectional poverty line and reducing poverty, which has received international praise; widening social assistance coverage; respecting and protecting the rights of children; developing social security policies; fulfilling Vietnam's role as 2020 chairman of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community well; and increasing citizens' faith in social policies.

Expected reduction in post-Tet "job hopping": "Job hopping" is an issue that plagues employers every year; after receiving Tet bonuses and celebrating the holiday, thousands of employees do not return to their jobs, and instead seek new ones. Employers have undertaken many tactics to try and stop this, such as withholding some of the bonus until after Tet, promising extra post-Tet benefits, and calling on the government to clamp down on the practice. This year, however, Tuoi Tre (Vietnamese) reports that "job hopping" is expected to  reduce due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Many employees want to make sure they receive all of their salaries and bonuses, and are worried that if COVID-19 spreads again, they could become unemployed. Consequently, they want to stick with the security of their current jobs.

Over 30 employees at Dai Yen lorry checking station without wages for a year: As reported in Lao Dong (Vietnamese), employees at this weighing station (which checks for oversized and overloaded vehicles to maintain bridge and road structures and reduce accidents, located in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, in northeast Vietnam) did not receive anything during all of 2020. There is also no source of funding for 2021. This is because the Quang Ninh provincial authorities and the Ministry of Transport are both saying that the other needs to pay. They have been passing the ball back and forth but have not found a solution. From the establishment of the station in 1996 until the end of 2019, wages were paid by the Ministry of Transport. From 2012 to 2019, salaries were paid by the central Road Maintenance Fund. From 2020, however, there was no Road Maintenance Fund - this is the main reason why the Dai Yen weighing station is in wage arrears.

Plan for establishment of Thu Duc Labour Federation: In December, Thu Duc City was established through combining Ho Chi Minh City's district 2, district 9, and Thu Duc district. This is a city within a city, as it is still part of Ho Chi Minh City. For those interested in knowing more, see this English-language article in VN Express International. But basically, a quick dive into Vietnam's administrative structures: the highest sub-national tiers are provinces and municipalities. There are currently five municipalities; Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho. These municipalities are the same administrative tier as provinces, i.e. directly below the national level. Provincial cities—there are many, such as Bien Hoa, Da Lat, and Hue—are the tier below that, under provinces. The creation of Thu Duc city is a new administrative unit of "municipal city", subordinate to municipalities. They are therefore the same administrative tier as provincial cities. Thu Duc is currently the only municipal city, but more are planned over the next decade.

Mirroring this structure, as reported in Lao Dong and Nguoi Lao Dong (both Vietnamese), the VGCL's Ho Chi Minh City Labour Federation has recently published their plan for the Thu Duc City Labour Federation. This will be directly under the Ho Chi Minh City Labour Federation and will merge the previous labour federations of district 2, district 9 and Thu Duc district. The Federation will have 27 full time staff and there will be 53 people on the executive committee. The headquarters will be on the current site of the district 2 Labour Federation's Cultural House. On February 1, the Ho Chi Minh City Labour Federation is expected to announce its decision and procedures regarding this plan.

Workers in Laos and Thailand return to Vietnam early for pre-Tet quarantine: VN Express (Vietnamese) and VN Express International (English) report that thousands of Vietnamese migrant workers in these countries are sacrificing salaries so they can get back to Vietnam and undergo the compulsory 14 day quarantine in order to be home for the Tet holiday.

Source: Joe Buckley

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