On March 3-4, 2022, the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF), together with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), were able to hold an online seminar on industrial relations (IR) and labour policy, with participants in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong. In total, there were forty four participants in attendance.
In the opening ceremony, on behalf of VGCL, the Deputy Director of the VGCL’s International Department gave words of gratitude to the Japanese Government and JILAF for cooperating in various projects, and expressed the trade unions’ desire to use the seminar to exchange information with Japan on support activities for workers affected by COVID-19. Following this, JILAF President Yasunobu Aihara stated his hopes for the seminar to be focused on "the mechanism that allows workers to work with peace of mind (social security system)," and for it to result in the building of constructive industrial relations and social and economic development.
Next, JILAF Group Leader Naohiro Tsuji then gave a lecture entitled "The Social Security Policy in Japan," in which he explained matters such as, (1) the outline of Japan's social security system, as well as (2) unemployment insurance, industrial accident insurance, medical insurance, and the pension system.
After the lecture, participants asked questions about various topics including, (1) the coverage of industrial accident insurance, (2) the handling of medical expenses when infected with COVID-19, (3) details of the operations performed by Hello Work, and (4) the availability of employment support for female workers aged 35 to 55 and the system thereof. In response to these questions, appropriate answers were given by JILAF.
Furthermore, the activities of Hello Work were presented with an introductory video created by the Osaka Labour Bureau, which was explained through a Vietnamese interpreter. (Hello Work Fuse "The Role of Hello Work") https://youtu.be/WwtCSz0naqk
Subsequently, the Deputy Director of the VGCL’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions gave a lecture on "The Impact of COVID-19 on Workers in Vietnam," in which he explained (1) the issues concerning income and daily life (especially the large impact on transportation, services, and private nursery schools), (2) the physical and mental impact on workers, and (3) the impact on trade unions (decrease in the number of union members, and activities being brought online).
Following this, JILAF Group Leader Tsuji also gave a lecture on "The Impact of COVID-19 on Workers in Japan" and "Support Activities of Japanese Trade Unions for Workers Affected by COVID-19." In the lecture, he explained (1) the changes in the number of people with COVID-19, people unemployed, people taking leave, (2) the government policies and legal systems that guarantee employment stability, as well as (3) examples of measures taken against COVID-19 in trade unions. In response, participants asked whether or not healthcare workers treated COVID-19 infections as occupational accidents, among other questions, to which JILAF answered as appropriate.
On the second day, the Deputy Director of the VGCL’s Industrial Relations Department gave a lecture on "Support Activities of Vietnamese Trade Unions for Workers Affected by COVID-19." In the lecture, he shared details on issues concerning (1) the survey aimed at studying the actual situation in Vietnam, (2) the thorough enforcement of workplace safety and health regulations in cooperation with the government, (3) the provision of comprehensive living support such as foodstuff for workers and equipment to facilitate online classes for children, as well as (4) the burden on workers caused by labour shortages in workplaces where cases of COVID-19 have emerged, or family members contracting COVID-19.
After this, JILAF President Aihara gave a supplementary explanation on occupational accidents.
Then, based on the information provided thus far, the participants carried out group discussions (theme: issues concerning support for workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.) and made presentations. The presentations given by each group covered topics such as, (1) the possibility of support being delayed or undelivered due to the complexity of the procedure for requesting social isolation from the central government, (2) the heavy burden of medical expenses on workers who are dismissed or on unpaid leave due to their being ineligible for medical insurance, (3) the insufficient support for family members of those with COVID-19 and the insufficient support system for social reintegration after recovering from COVID-19, as well as (4) the difficulty of face-to-face support due to restrictions on movement. After providing a supplementary explanation on Japan's social isolation system, JILAF President Aihara voiced the need to share insight on issues that exist in Japan, such as exploitative companies and domestic violence, as well as the need to further protect people who are vulnerable.
Lastly, the Deputy Director of the VGCL’s International Department stated that it was a very informative seminar where examples of Japan could be shared, and that the VGCL will now work with trade unions and the government in each region to address the challenges of workers. JILAF President Aihara then closed the seminar by expressing how it was a very meaningful opportunity where deep discussions could be made about the response to COVID-19, and that he would like to continue to hold seminars on employment and socio-economic issues in Vietnam.