More realistic strike regulations required (Saigon Times)

The third draft of the amended Labor Code includes several changes, but does not represent a radical departure from previous laws

In 2007, Chapter XIV of the Labor Code was amended and supplemented to simplify the procedures for organizing legal strikes. However, spontaneous strikes have continued to mushroom.

H3. Unrealistic strike regulations

Amendments to Chapter XIV of the Labor Code, which have been in force since 2007, have failed to reflect reality as they were not based on thorough research into strikes in Vietnam. As a result, their implementation has been problematic.

First, employees are entitled to go on strike only in disputes regarding their benefits – that is, when laborers request new working conditions that differ from legal provisions, the collective labor agreement or other agreements (Article 157 of the Labor Code 2007). Disputes relating to labor rights, which are stipulated in legal provisions, collective labor agreements and labor regulations that employers have registered with State agencies, are to be resolved by the relevant authorities, including reconciliation councils or reconciliation staff, the chairperson of the district people’s committee or the people’s court (Article 165 of the Labor Code).

However, reality differs in Vietnam, where the State’s grasp of violations of labor laws remains dismal. Offenses are widespread and frequent, which is one of the primary reasons for the proliferation of strikes.

In view of the ineffective State control to which employers are subject, employees have no choice but to go on strike to protect their rights even though this approach runs counter to the law. In this case, restricting rights-based strikes is not realistic.

Second, the Labor Code highlights the role of labor unions, which is indeed limited. Strikes are legal only if they are held and led by labor unions. According to the 2007 amendments and supplements to the Labor Code, representatives appointed by the labor community can also assume this role (Article 172a). However, the third draft has assigned this task solely to labor unions.

In reality, only 20,399 of the approximately 300,000 non-State enterprises have labor unions. Thus, employees cannot strike legitimately in over 80% of enterprises. What can they do, then? Some contend that perhaps higher level labor unions should step in, but the fact remains that such unions may not have a thorough understanding of the problems plaguing employees in a particular business.

Read more …

More Realistic Strike Regulations Required, Saigon Times, Jul 2 2010

Revised Labour Code, 2009 – 2010 and National Conference on Industrial Relations, Apr 1-2, 2010