Nguyễn Văn Pha, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, spoke to the newspaper Lao động (Labour) on the adverse effect on employees if their employers don’t pay the monthly trade union fee for them.
Do you agree with the argument that workers’ social benefits will be affected if their employers don’t pay their monthly trade union fees for them?
Under Article 10 of the Vietnamese Constitution, the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) is the only trade union organisation in Việt Nam and represents the whole working class in the country.
Under the Việt Nam Trade Union Law, employers have to pay a monthly fee that is equal to 2 per cent of each employee’s salary. The fee is used to cover trade union activities, protect workers’ rights and ensure their legal benefits.
This financial mechanism was first included in Decree No 108 and signed on November 5, 1957 by President Hồ Chi Minh. It was then also reflected in Decree No.118-TTg on April 9, 1958 by Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng.
By now, the 2 per cent trade union fee paid by employers for their employees has been practiced for almost 60 years and the money collected has been well managed and wisely spent by the Việt Nam Trade Union.
Worthy of note, part of the collected fees have been used to take care of the material and spiritual life of the workers and towards the cause of national construction, development and defense.
But more recently, the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has argued that the 2 per cent trade union fee paid by employers has some how reduced the independence of the trade union while adding a cost to products. How do you respond to the VCCI’s arguments?
As I have mentioned above, the 2 per cent trade union fee paid by the employer is a reflection of their responsibility towards their employees, and the Việt Nam Trade Union is the sole legal representative of the workers.
In reality, according to a survey conducted by the VGCL, the 2 per cent trade union fee that the employer has to pay monthly for an employee accounts for just between 0.14 to 0.2 per cent of production costs.
So I don’t think the argument that the monthly trade union fee paid by the employer would add costs to the enterprise’s products and weaken the enterprise’s competitive edge.
In fact, having a strong trade union and budget available to take care of the workers’ spiritual and material life are essential elements to help elevate enterprises to a higher level.
In your opinion, if the employer doesn’t pay the 2 per cent trade union fee for their employees, who would be directly affected?
The rule on the 2 per cent trade union fee paid by the employer should be interpreted as the responsibility and obligation of all employers towards their employees. It has a very important role in allowing the trade union to foster harmonised, stable and progressive labour relations in the enterprise.
If the employer refuses to pay monthly trade union fees for their employees, the most affected people are no others than the workers. The Trade Union in the enterprise will not have the money to subsidise workers who are in special difficult circumstances, including labour accidents or serious illness.
What do you think about the role played by the VGCL in taking care of workers so far?
I should say the VGCL has played an important role in taking care of the workers, who are also members of the VGCL.
The VGCL has done its best to ensure democracy and that all policies relating to employees are well implemented by their employers.
The Việt Nam Fatherland is always on the side of the VGCL to give due care and provide good protection for its members – the workers. - VNS