Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Officials from the Việt Nam General Labour Confederation have voiced concern over a recent proposal revoking the maternity benefits to which female workers are entitled.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) is preparing a draft amendment to the Labour Law, cancelling a provision allowing female workers with babies young than 12 months to get an hour off during the day for breastfeeding, and a 30-minute break during menstruation.
Đặng Quang Điều, head of the Policy Department of the Việt Nam General Labor Confederation, said that the daily break of 60 minutes is meant for female workers to breastfeed their babies, as Việt Nam encourages breastfeeding until babies are two years old. “I really don’t understand why the prevailing rule is to be abolished,” he is quoted as saying.
Lê Đình Quảng, deputy head of the labour relationships department under the federation, agreed. “It’s a very humane policy. In the past few days, many labourers have expressed their objection to the removal of such benefits, and I think they are reasonable, and I also think relevant Government agencies need to listen to their voice,” he said.
“The Labour Federation has issued an official document disagreeing with this proposal,” he added.
Hà Đình Bốn, head of the legislation department of the labour ministry who heads the drafting team explained at a recent seminar that many enterprises suggested dropping the current regulations because they raise production costs and comlicate work arrangements. He explained that the amendment is meant to harmonize the relationship between employer and employee.
However, many experts disagree with this explanation and mindset.
Lê Thị Quý, director of the Gender Research Institute, said such calculation is a mistake. “If a female worker has to be worried about her baby who needs to be breastfeed, she tends to get stressed and her productivity will decrease. So, at the end of the day, if enterprises give women more benefits, they’ll get their work done in a better manner. Overall, it’s a win-win situation,” Quý said.
Phạm Xuân Hồng, chairman of the HCM City Association of Garment, Textile, Embroidery and Knitting workers, shared Quý’s opinion. “At issue is how to raise productivity rather than lengthening working hours. The morale and health of workers are also very important, and if they have no time to take care of their babies, the efficiency of their work may be hampered,” he said.
“ I think the draft amended labour code has made no progress in terms of protecting labourers’ rights. And I think the Government should not stand side with enterprises in decisions that go against the wish of every worker,” she said.
The Việt Nam General Labour Confederation, together with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on Wednesday held a consultancy meeting with union officers in Hồ Chí Mính City regarding the matter.
Nguyễn Phước Đại, head of the Trade Union of Juki Company in Tân Thuận Industrial Zone, said many enterprises have been properly adhering to the current rules. “It’s obviously a matter of humane policy. We can’t just simply impose the wish of a minority of enterprises on all workers,” Đại said.
The 2012 amendment to the Labour Law increased maternity leave from four to six months, and provided the hour-long break for new mothers and the 30-minute break for menstuating women.--VNS