Ngọ Duy Hiểu. — Photo laodong.vn
Ngọ Duy Hiểu, a National Assembly deputy and director of the Labour Relations Commission under the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour, speaks to Lao động (Labour) newspaper about the Việt Nam Trade Union’s determination to renew itself.
What are the major issues for labour in the CPTPP?
In the field of labour and trade unions, the CPTPP has touched upon some key issues relating to Viêt Nam, such as the implementation of international labour criteria, stopping trade sanctions being applied in the first five years after the CPTPP comes into force towards the establishment of grass roots trade unions (these unions do not belong to the Việt Nam General Confederation of Trade Union or VGCL) and no commercial sanction being applied in the seven years following the enforcement of the CPTPP on the alliance of grassroots trade unions.
Some other issues have also been covered in the CPTPP, including the agreement on collective labour negotiation, forced labour, child labour, working hours, rest hours, minimum wage and others.
What opportunities and challenges has the CPTPP presented to the VGCL?
As a member of the CPTPP, Vietnamese people will have more job opportunities and the jobs will be more sustainable with working conditions that can improve. What’s more, workers’ wages will be higher and their living conditions will be much better. In short, by implementing the commitments of the CPTPP, Vietnamese trade union members and employees will benefit.
Of course, besides opportunities there will be challenges. The biggest challenge is that in the near future, new organisations representing workers beside the VGCL will be established. In other words there will be competition between the VGCL and trade unions created by workers themselves. The operational environment of trade unions will experience a big change due to complications in labour relations.
We hope fair and healthy competition will occur between the VGCL and the new trade unions. We hope with a long history of development and its extensive grassroots organisation nationwide, the VGCL will be able to protect the rights of its members.
Does the VGCL have a strategy to cope with the new situation?
The VGCL is the official representative of Vietnamese Trade Unions organisations nationwide. Throughout the course of negotiating the CPTPP, the VGCL played an important role in preparing various scenarios following the treaty’s signing. The following are some of the major tasks that the VGCL put efforts into:
First, we plan to launch a communication campaign to raise trade union members’ awareness of opportunities and challenges facing Việt Nam as a member of the CPTPP.
Second, we will reform and improve the quality of trade union organisations’ activities, particularly activities to protect union members’ benefits as well as non-union members.
Third, we hope to improve the quality of trade union leaders, particularly their capacity in negotiation with their employers to protect workers’ benefits.
Fourth, we expect to improve activities of grassroots trade unions to gain more confidence from trade union members and to become strong and reliable supporters.
Last, we will renovate the trade union organisational model along the lines of simplicity, effectiveness and efficiency.
The VGCL has been drafting a proposal to reform the organisation and activities of the Việt Nam Trade Union. In the meantime, the VGCL has also prepared for the revision of the Trade Union Law to present to the upcoming 12th of the National Congress of the Việt Nam Trade Union.
How will the 2012 Trade Union Law be revised?
We deem it necessary to revise the 2012 Trade Union Law for a new situation. In the five years since the Trade Union Law came to force, we don’t see any major issues which requires a thorough revision of the law. However, to prepare for some provisions relating to labour and trade union which are written in the CPTPP we need between three to four years to change our Trade Union Law. So the 2012 Trade Union Law must be revised in 2021 and be ready for submission to the National Assembly for approval in 2022.— VNS