VGCL/JILAF Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminars in Vietnam

Group discussions (Hanoi)

JILAF, together with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), held industrial relations and labour policy seminars in Hanoi on January 10 and Da Nang on January 12, 2018.

At the seminar in Hanoi, opening addresses were delivered by JILAF Councilor Koihi Oyama and the head of the VGCL’s Industrial Relations Bureau (a member of the executive committee), who spoke about the importance of trade unions formulating a social security policy, holding discussions with management, and submitting policy and system proposals to the government. The head of the VGCL’s Industrial Relations Bureau also expressed hope that since Japan was the biggest investing country in Vietnam (in 2017), trade unions would develop together with Japanese companies in the future.

Six sessions were then held, as follows, after which the seminar ended with the participants compiling action plans.
---Trade unions and industrial relations in Japan
A participant from a Japanese company remarked that productivity improvement had the effect of strengthening labour and asked how unskilled workers could be supported. The reply focused on the importance of trade unions listening carefully to the opinions of workers and engaging in discussions with management.
---Social insurance in Vietnam (assistant director of the Vietnamese Social Insurance Agency)
The speaker pointed out that Vietnam has many nonregular workers and that the biggest problem is the low social insurance membership ratio. To increase the membership ratio, the government is taking such steps as shortening the obligation for companies to enroll contract workers from three months or more to one month or more.
---Outline of the Japanese social security system and social insurance (JILAF Councilor Oyama )
Explanation focusing on the social insurance system
---Efforts of trade unions to ensure social security rights and benefits (Deputy Director Nguyen Van Quan of the VGCL’s Industrial Relations Bureau)
---Report by the Hanoi City Export Processing Zone Workers’ Union (9 industrial estates, about 150,000 workers, 11 full-time officials)

The speaker identified the problem of social insurance premium arrears by four companies (two Chinese companies, one US company, one Vietnamese company, no Japanese companies) and the important role of trade unions in urging payment.

---Report by a company-based trade union in Haiphong (Toyoda Gosei Haiphong Co., Ltd.)

The speaker reported that labour-management relations were excellent and that the two sides were collaborating with regard to social insurance changes to come with enforcement of a revision of the social insurance law in January 2018.

The participants then held group discussions and compiled action plans. The presentations focused on such topics as the promotion of workers’ understanding of the social insurance system; the manipulation of wages subject to social insurance premiums as a means by which employers avoided an increased burden (lowering of standard wages and payment of allowances, etc.; to be tackled by revision of the social insurance law to go into effect in January 2018); the strengthening of trade union inspection functions; improvement of the capabilities of trade unions relating to legislation; the holding of on-site surveys and checking of documents in collaboration with the inspection division of the Social Insurance Agency; efforts by labour and management to ensure the stability of insurance by helping ordinary workers to become skilled workers; countermeasures by trade unions regarding arrears; clarification of the roles and functions of trade unions; participation in inspections at the time of policy implementation; and social dialogue toward strengthening the role of the VGCL in the social insurance system.

In the closing ceremony, JILAF Councilor Oyama and Deputy Director Quan made comments and final remarks. JILAF Councilor Oyama mentioned the difficulty of adjusting the intergenerational conflict of interests regarding social security and emphasized that in Vietnam as well, it was important to start preparing right away and make adjustments in the interests of workers as a whole. Deputy Director Quan requested JILAF’s continued cooperation and expressed his gratitude to the participants.

At the seminar in Da Nang, after an opening ceremony featuring an introduction of the participants, an address by JILAF Councilor Oyama, and a commemorative photo, the following seven sessions were held, after which the seminar ended with the participants compiling action plans.

---Trade unions and labour-management consultations in Japan
---The state of social insurance in Da Nang (assistant director of the Da Nang City Social Insurance Bureau)
---Efforts for injured and sick workers in Da Nang (representative from the Da Nang City Labour Bureau)
---The social security system and social insurance in Japan (JILAF Councilor Oyama)
---The role and issues of trade unions in Da Nang
There are about 4,500 companies in Da Nang and about 200,000 people enrolled in social insurance. Apart from state-run enterprises, there are companies that are not paying. Until now it has been necessary to pay for workers with employment contracts of three months or more, but this period will be lowered to one month or more in January. For trade unions as well, it is important for the system to be spread even more widely.
---The role of trade unions in social insurance (department head in the VGCL’s Industrial Relations Bureau)

There have been newspaper reports that the social insurance system is on the verge of bankruptcy, so it is important for trade unions to firmly convey to union members that social insurance protects workers. Also, the speaker reported that there are currently five strikes in progress: two in Hanoi, two in Dong Nai Province, and one in the central region.

---Efforts of the Federation of Industrial Estate Workers’ Unions (Thua Thien Industrial Estate in Hue Province, etc.)

The presentations following group discussions were attended by Director Teruhiko Sekiguchi of the JILAF Thailand Office and a VGCL representative. As efforts within companies, reports highlighted the strengthening of labour-management relations, collaboration with related organizations, capacity building (trade unions, related organizations), system strengthening, improvement of company enrollment rates, publicity, enhancing the awareness of labour and management, and strengthening punishment. As social efforts, they focused on measures for the socially vulnerable; inspections and auditing of legal compliance; the strengthening of monitoring activities; the promotion of understanding through publicity; educational activities to improve the enrollment rate; proposals to deal with violations; proposals to improve legal inadequacies; capacity building (trade unions); improvement of the social security system’s coverage rate; job stability; improvement of wages (livelihood stability); strengthening of the transparency, openness, and sustainability of social security; and explanation of the merits of insurance.

In his closing ceremony address, JILAF Councilor Oyama commented that quality work was the biggest social security and that the preconditions of the social insurance system were a sense of mutual compassion and mutual assistance through workers’ solidarity. He expressed his hope that the efforts of the participants would lead to the building of further solidarity and sound industrial relations.


01/10WedSeminar (Hanoi)
01/12FriSeminar (Da Nang)

Photos of the Participants

Opening ceremony (Da Nang)

Group discussions (Da Nang)

Closing address by JILAF