Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers

Vietnam’s Election As Member Of ILO Governing Body Raises Eyebrows

[CPVW 10th June 2011] Vietnam was elected onto the International Labor Organization’s governing body on Monday 07th June. This has raised eyebrows because the regime systematically depresses workers’ rights and conditions, in contravention of ILO principles it has solemnly promised to respect.

One of the ILO’s core principles is respect for freedom of association. Yet the Vietnamese regime uses the nation’s Constitution to deny workers this right, by giving a specialised branch of the ruling Communist Party, the VGCL, “the sole right to represent all workers” in Vietnam, thereby outlawing any attempt by workers to form other groups representing their interests.

The above-mentioned organization, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, was “formed by the Communist Party”, its role is to “promulgate the Communist Party’s directions”, it is “led by Communist Party officials” and it works “under the direction of the Communist Party”, according to VGCL’s own Vietnamese-language website – although the English-language side of the website is not so frank, leaving out these details. We have, however, put these details into Wikipedia’s entry on VGCL.

The Vietnamese regime systematically prevents workers from exercising their right to industrial action. This is done by its VGCL stationing officials at factories to identify and stop any worker attempting to organize industrial actions, and by laws authorizing employers to sack striking workers as well as demanding economic compensation from them unless the strike is organized by VGCL, which it never does. The regime also imprisons people for organizing strikes. Presently at least 3 people, Chuong-Hung-Hanh are serving prison terms of 7 and 9 years (Doan Huy Chuong 7 years, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung 9, Do Thi Minh Hanh 7) for helping organize a strike by 10 thousand workers at the My Phong shoe factory in the Tra Vinh province in January 2010.

The above imprisonments have prompted more than 3,500 union members and officials around the world to join a LabourStart protest. The ITUC, the International Metalworkers Federation, and Australia’s peak union council ACTU are among international worker bodies which have raised serious concern.