Conference seeks to strengthen guest worker protection

It is crucial to enhance the role of trade unions in protecting guest workers to minimise their risks, said a conference jointly held by the Vietnam General Labour Confederation (VGLC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Hanoi on July 10.

According to the VGLC, the number of Vietnamese guest workers is likely to rise. About 70 percent of the workers are from rural areas with low vocational skills and experience leading to high risks in their jobs. 

Many Vietnamese workers who paid substantial sums to receive jobs abroad without protection had to return home before expected and fell into debt. 

Besides a number of workers with expired contracts refused to return to Vietnam and stayed in the host country to seek new forms of employment, affecting Vietnam’s labour export activities and the workers themselves. 

The VGLC attributed the situation to a lack of effective policies to protect guest workers coupled with inefficient laws and poor collaboration among relevant parties. 

Ineffective law enforcement and limited worker access to the judicial system are also behind the situation, according to the confederation. 

Ahn Pong-sul, an expert from the ILO, said experiences from other countries show that the role of trade unions in observing labourer rights is significant due to the union’s capacity to supervise the migration process and working conditions as well as giving legal support to labourers. 

Participants at the event agreed that it is necessary to add a regulation on labourer rights to receiving support in negotiating recruitment deals. Trade unions should also strengthen supervision over the implementation of contracts to make timely adjustments for the better protection of workers’ rights.-