December 13, 2017

On 2nd June 2017, a workshop titled “Current status of Vietnam garment sector working conditions and improvement method” has been organized by Institute for Workers and Trade Union, Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) with the support of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia (RLS SEA). Opened the workshop, Mr Mai Duc Chinh, vice president of VGCL and Mrs. Liliane Danso-Dahmen, Director of RLS SEA delivered welcome speech and emphasized the importance of ensuring social rights to people, especially to workers in garment sector while taking the questions of wealth distribution, global supply chains into account.

Sharing at the workshop, researchers, experts of VGCL, ILO, Trade union representatives, CSO, etc. raised the questions of not only in current legal framework (Labour Law) but also in the implementation, interpretation of law in practices, as well as the pros and cons of the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) mechanism in Vietnam. Once again, the workshop stressed that the current wage of garment worker is only meet up to 70% of their living (and that is the main cause of strikes), together with violence, too much overtime work hours as most of the enterprises do not comply with salary, shifts and leaves, etc.

In regards of gender issues, 80% of garment workers are women at the age of 18-30. Most of them are struggling to balance the work-life and have less access to healthcare and reproductive information. In worse case, they’re even at risk of being fired in their pregnancy (that also cause unemployment after the age of 30 for these fired female workers).

Participants at the workshop also expressed their concerned in the issue of employment contract. Currently, terms and content of contract are solely utilized by employer. As well, the rate of non-contract, verbal contract or seasonal contract make up 15-20%.

On the other hand, the current CBA contents are mainly repeat the laws, sometimes not equally valid to work rules of the enterprises. About social dialogues,  though have increased at enterprises level, but it is only on way from the employers.

Moreover, in regards of trade union rights, there are currently disruption and manipulation to trade union: disruption to electing committee members, control accounts, intervene into planning, etc. Sometimes, trade union staffs do not allowed to have time to spend on trade union activities, etc.

The event also received international guests from Thailand and Cambodia to share about their countries’ experiences.

The workshop was an opportunity for relevant stake holders to have straight-forward dialogues from different perspectives, discussed about challenges, also opportunities to improve and enhance the garment workers’ social rights. The discourse about this topic should definitely be continued.

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