Business associations disagree with working-time reduction

September 18, 2019 - 08:00
Most enterprise associations disagree with the proposal to cut working time from 48 hours to 44 hours per week under the draft revised Labour Code.


Illustrative image. VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI — Most enterprise associations disagree with the proposal to cut working time from 48 hours to 44 hours per week under the draft revised Labour Code.

The opinions were revealed after Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Đào Ngọc Dung worked with the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and several enterprise associations on Monday afternoon to receive comments on the draft.

The proposal by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has been compiled under the draft, which is set to be submitted for approval at the eighth session of the 14th National Assembly in October.

Phan Thị Thanh Xuân, vice president of the Việt Nam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO), said cutting down the working hours to 44 per week meant that businesses would have to recruit an additional 10 per cent of labourers.

However, the leather and footwear sector currently could not recruit more workers due to a shortage. Some enterprises even had to employ 50-year-old labourers, she said.

Meanwhile, it was hard for enterprises to invest too much in technology to increase labour productivity while the number of products remained the same, she said.

Therefore, cutting working hours to 44 per week would cause a reduction in sales for enterprises, she added.

Vũ Tiến Lộc, chairman of VCCI said “It is not the proper time to cut working hours.”

“If the country wants to escape from the middle-income trap, we have to take full advantage of the labour force and work very hard,” he said.

Overtime increase

Representatives of the enterprise associations also suggested the draft should increase overtime instead of applying a maximum of 300 hours of overtime each year as at present.

Nguyễn Xuân Dương, deputy president of the Việt Nam Textile and Apparel Association said in a global context, China now allowed their labourers to work 600 hours of overtime each year and Japan permitted their labourers to work 700 hours of overtime each year.

If a domestic enterprise wanted to deliver goods to its international partner on time, they might have to violate current regulations on overtime to meet the deadline and compete with other enterprises in the region, he said.

However, if the partner found that the domestic enterprise violated the regulations, they would halt the order. "We would lose the order," he said.

Dương also said that the domestic textile sector often had no orders from partners in March and October. In September, some enterprises worked just 4 -5 hours each day due to a lack of orders.

Additionally, the wage for domestic textile labourers was currently higher than textile labourers in India and Bangladesh. "If we tighten the amount of overtime, our enterprises would lose orders and the labourers would lose their jobs," he said.

Agreeing with Dương, Nguyễn Hoài Nam, deputy general secretary of the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said “We could miss out on orders from partners if we have problems with overtime.”

Bùi Sỹ Lợi, vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Social Affairs, said the Government was planning to propose to the NA to allow the Government to solve the problem of overtime in some special sectors. This proposal would be decided by the NA but the opinion of the committee was that it did not agree with the increase in overtime.

Minister Dung, head of the draft’s compiling board said it was difficult to satisfy all people because the impact of the labour code was significant. However, the board would consider all comments to find the most suitable solution.

“The objective of the code is to serve labourers and the country’s development, including paying attention to businesses,” he said.— VNS