The Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Council today passed a resolution calling on the Vietnamese Government to meet its international human rights obligations by allowing free and independent trade unions.
TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 23 May 2013
Speaking in Darwin at the TWU National Council, TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said many Vietnamese employers, including companies based in Australia or with Australian owners, were brazenly exploiting Vietnamese workers.
“Under the Vietnamese Constitution and Trade Union legislation, only unions associated with the Government-sanctioned Vietnamese General Confederation are permitted to organise in Vietnamese workplaces.
“There is no tolerance of independent trade unions, and people who try to form a union are thrown in prison.
“This allows employers to get away with outrageous behaviour that simply could not occur in a country that respected human rights.”
The TWU National Council also called for the release of three Vietnamese labour activists imprisoned since 2010.
“The Vietnamese Government must release the imprisoned labour activists Doan Huy Chuong, Do Thi Minh Hanh and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung – whose only crime has been to stand up for their rights,” Tony Sheldon said.
“Vietnam is clearly breaching its international human rights obligations by detaining these labour activists, and by preventing independent trade unions from representing workers.”
The TWU National Council also heard a presentation from Trung Doan of the Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers, which recently conducted a study of working conditions in four Vietnamese seafood canneries.
“We found that workers were getting paid an average of just $110 a month, well below a bare-bones livable wage which for a single worker is estimated at $150, or $130 for each member of a couple with no kid. This means working overtime is not option.
“Not only were workers paid below living wage levels, but employers were then ‘borrowing’ money out of their pay against their will, interest-free.
“That money would not be returned if the employee resigns or is sacked.
“Workers are also suffering from health problems from practices such as dipping bare hands in food processing solutions to earn a ‘production bonus’, or because supervisors declared ‘gloves off’.”