The ITUC does not have an affiliate in Vietnam.

In practice

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Workers who take part in strikes that do not have government approval risk sanctions, but the conditions to be met for organising a strike legally are so restrictive it is almost impossible to respect them. There was a huge increase in the number of illegal strikes during the year from 423 the previous year to nearly 1000 in 2011. Most strikes are linked to the fact that workers wages have not kept up with inflation, which reached 18%.

In its latest report the ILO’s Better Work-Vietnam project notes that of the 78 factories involved in its programme, three have refused to reinstate all eligible workers after a strike, and one factory punished workers who went on strike.

From 24-29 June, over 90,000 workers at the Pou Yuen shoe factory which supplies major footwear brands such as Adidas, went on strike to demand better wages. Several sources reported that workers were arrested and/or dismissed following their action.

Unions affiliated to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) have limited scope for collective bargaining given the management domination of the union in many enterprises. Recently, the VGCL statutes were amended in order to limit certain high-ranking managers from serving as union leaders. In its last report, the ILO’s Better-Work Vietnam project pointed out that in three quarters of the factories involved in its programme it is not possible for the union to meet with the workers without management being present.

The government blocks access to politically sensitive sites. Internet cafe managers are required to monitor and record their customers’ online activity. In April, the Hanoi People’s Committee (the city’s executive organ) issued a legal decision that all internet cafes must install monitoring software approved by the authorities, prohibiting the use of the internet to “call for illegal demonstrations, boycotts, unlawful gatherings for grievances and complaints”.

The ability of unions that are affiliated to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) to effectively bargain with management is handicapped by the fact that at many private enterprises, VGCL representatives are either considered by the workers to be close to management or are actually management officials.

Workers do not have the right to form or join a trade union that is not affiliated to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), the official labour confederation controlled by the Communist Party. A new generation of trade unionists is emerging however, who do not have such close links to the party, notably in the post and telecommunications sector.

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