Reports indicate that:
• Right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is not upheld; The government bans all unions that are independent of the government or the Party, workers who have attempted to form labor organizations outside of the official union structure dominated by the state and the Communist Party have been prosecuted and jailed on criminal charges in retaliation for their efforts, conditions to be met for organizing a strike legally are so restrictive it is almost impossible to respect them and workers who lead ‘wild cat’ strikes can suffer firing, blacklisting, physical violence and imprisonment.
• There is evidence confirming compulsory and/or forced labour, in particular in so-called drug rehabilitation centres and this includes work in the timber sector and a five year obligated military service includes active implementation of socio-economic development programmes.
• There is evidence confirming discrimination in respect of employment and/or occupation, and/or gender: Even though the country is one of Southeast Asia’s best in terms of fostering gender equality and the gender wage gap is much lower than the global average, there is evidence of gender discrimination in the labour market: regulation regarding retirement age is an example of direct discrimination that requires women retire at age 55 while men retire at 60; enterprises hold back from recruiting young women without children and ask female workers to delay their plans to have children; women usually hold lower positions whereas most of management posts belong to men; female workers often have fewer training opportunities before and during their work career compared to their male colleagues and women with families even face more difficulties; in enterprises, women held only about 6.3 per cent of leadership positions. The household registration system (hộ khẩu), results in discrimination against ethnic minorities belonging to “unrecognized” religious groups in the fields of employment and there is a general concern regarding the existence of racial discrimination and inequality between ethnic groups, as well as the persistence of negative societal attitudes and stereotypes against persons of minority ethnic origin. In rural areas, ethnic minorities are much less likely to have written work contracts, receive pay-slips or have social security benefits.
• There is evidence confirming child labour: As of 2012, some 1.75 million working children are categorized as “child labourers”, accounting for 9.6per cent of the national child population or 62per cent of children engaged in Economic Activities; A significant number of these children work in the forestry and timber sector.
• The country is signatory to only 5 of the 8 fundamental ILO Conventions which are all in force: Vietnam did not ratify C87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948, C98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 and C105 Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957.
• There is evidence that any groups (including women) do not feel adequately protected related to the rights mentioned above: see information on gender and ethnic minorities above.
• Violations of labour rights are not limited to specific sectors: Examples of violations were found in relation to agriculture including forestry, domestic services, construction and others.
OSH problems are common in companies in Vietnam and improving work safety is also reported as a challenge in the furniture sector. The government requires companies to cover health and social insurance for workers, but some companies try to delay the payment. Then, the government needs to enforce compliance with the law for these companies. Due to poor health and safety conditions and inadequate employee training, the number of work accidents is high. Only small non-fatal accidents have been reported. High levels of dust was mentioned as an issue that could possibly lead to a lack of oxygen. Especially in summer, very high temperatures can be felt in the factories leading to risks of fainting. Lack of hygiene was identified as a risk. For small companies unsafe construction of the building is listed as a risk. Malfunctioning or unsafe machinery was not identified as a risk in the semi-finished processing and finishing facilities, but in sawmills and chip mills there are observations of saws without a guard to physically protect workers. In some small enterprises safety covers are removed, also old machinery is used that is not as safe as modern versions. Exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals and substances (glue in semi-finishing processes, paint, bleach and conserving chemicals in the finishing process) was mentioned as a problem. Lack of PPEs for workers was indicated as a risk in all operations, but with a higher risk in non-certified operations. Aspects include no provision of all required PPEs to all employees, insufficient quality of PPEs (old and/or damaged, not effectively protecting workers against risks, breathability of masks) and no or improper use of all PPEs by workers due to discomfort (too hot). Hearing damage due to factory noise (saws and in-factory traffic) is reported. Finally, a lack of emergency preparedness and response is listed by many sources as a risk in Vietnam.
There are frequent violations of the employment law on both sides:
– Not all workers have contracts as required by law.
– Equipment is not adequate because the contract normally state that workers have to organize it themselves.
– Employers do not have the right certificate for the type of work.
Some cannot pay even a basic salary for employees.
– The agreement between the employers and the trade union exists in theory only.
Not all social rights are covered by the relevant legislation and enforced in Vietnam, in particular in relation to freedom of association, right to organize and collective bargaining, forced labour, child labour and gender discrimination.