Trade unions are proving to be a reliable support for workers during Vietnam’s international integration.
Trade unions have worked with employers on wage, benefits, and labor regulations, and held dialogues on reconciling the interests of the State, employers, and workers. They have helped the government shape policies to ensure workers’ rights and living conditions.
Protecting workers’ legitimate rights
Trade unions have advised members how to initiate legal actions against companies for delaying workers’ insurance payment and have collaborated with Vietnam Social Insurance to organize fact-finding tours.
Le Dinh Quang, Deputy Director of the Labor Relations Department of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said, “We are working on a project to hire 20 trade union lawyers. But there are difficulties.
According to the Law on Lawyers, public servants are not allowed to work as lawyers and most grassroots trade union employees are public servants. Trade unions are responsible for creating an environment where lawyers can focus on labor laws for the benefits of trade unions, not for profit.”
Vietnam’s trade unions at all levels have signed 400 cooperative agreements with businesses to provide goods and services to members at discounts of 5 to 20%. Last year 1.5 million union members saved US$21 million through these incentives.
A highlight of trade union activities is taking care of workers during the Lunar New Year festival (Tet).
Nguyen Thi Nhu Y, President of the Confederation of Labor of Dong Nai province, where a large number of factories are located, said: trade unions oversee wages and benefits and seek to improve workers’ lives.
She noted, “We arrange free transportation for workers who have not returned home for Tet for several years. Trade unions have organized family reunions for disadvantaged workers who can’t return home for Tet. We make sure that workers benefit from our policies.”
Attracting new members
Vietnam’s CPTPP membership poses a challenge to trade unions because workers are permitted to join labor organizations other than the Vietnamese trade unions. This forces the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor to reform its operations to be more attractive to members.
Bui Van Cuong, President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said, “Trade unions should be a true representative of workers and a protector of their rights.
Reforms should be made to bring more benefits to union members, ensure industrial safety and hygiene, and deal with relations between employers and employees. By doing so, workers will find that Vietnamese trade unions are beneficial to them and will want to be members.”