|Workers is seeking jobs at a job fair in the southern Dong Nai Province. — Photo molisa.gov.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — On Saturday and Sunday nights, Tran Nam Sung, 31, and other workers drive down to places in Dong Nai Province where migrant workers live, and speak to them about labour laws and social welfare policies.
Their speeches draw the attention of many workers since it is common for them to have problems with their employers.
Sung is a migrant worker with the Construction No 7 Company in Dong Nai Province's Long Thanh District.
He is the leader of a network of peer educators comprising 42 members working for different companies in the district.
"As a migrant worker, I understand the difficulties faced by other migrant workers," he said.
"I and my wife moved from the central province of Nghe An to Dong Nai to find a job."
With an average income of around VND3.5 million (US$160), migrant workers had to struggle with the high cost of city life, he said.
Some employers deliberately flouted labour laws or ignored employees' rights, he told Viet Nam News, citing the instance of a worker who was fired for taking three days off without permission after falling sick.
It was a violation of labour laws, he explained to the worker.
The Labour Law allowed workers to take five days off without permission for sickness, he said.
"I am happy to see disadvantaged migrant workers get treated fairly and enjoying all their rights under the Labour Law."
He was trained in labour laws, social insurance, health insurance, and counselling.
Dong Nai has more than 880,000 workers at 31 industrial parks, with migrant workers accounting for 60 per cent, according to the province's Labour Federation.
There are 26 companies with 3,000 or more workers, 24 of them foreign-owned.
Most of the workers here were from rural areas, Nguyen Phuoc Manh, deputy chairwoman of the federation, said.
Workplace etiquette and knowledge of labour laws were poor among migrant workers, she said.
Some companies ignored policies and regulations benefiting workers, she added.
To educate workers in labour laws and regulations, in 1993 the federation established a centre for legal consultancy.
But the demand for legal support to workers was unmet since there was a severe shortage of lawyers, Vu Ngoc Ha, a lawyer with the centre, said.
The peer educators who were chosen from active and enthusiastic workers for propagating the laws had proven to be efficient assistants for lawyers and law counsellors, he said.
"We recognise that nobody can assist migrant workers as well as their peers.
"Workers prefer to listen to other workers than to their managers."
Many workers sought legal advice from peer educators during lunch time, he added.
The centre has held 98 training courses for 670 peer educators in labour laws, social insurance, health insurance, and legal counselling.
It has also offered legal advice to nearly 8,700 workers and litigated for nearly 1,000, winning compensation worth a total of VND16 billion ($711,000).
In 2014 alone more than 130 workers were provided legal services and they ended up getting compensation of VND1.9 billion ($84,500).
Most of the cases were related to unfair termination of labour contracts or unfair dismissal. — VNS