Controversial regulation may allow trade union membership to foreigners

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Báo Dân Trí English - 27 month(s) ago 13 readings

Controversial regulation may allow trade union membership to foreigners

Controversy remains among National Assembly deputies over a regulation in the Draft Law on Trade Unions that would allow foreign workers to join labour unions.

Vietnam has an increasing amount of foreign labourers

The National Assembly Standing Committee held a discussion on the draft bill on March 22, in which the Law Committee spoke out in support of the regulation.

According to the committee, the country currently houses tens of thousands of foreign employees, most of whom are working for foreign-invested companies.

“In fact, some conflicts have arisen between the foreign staff and local employers. It would be better for these workers to be able bargain for their own interests, and membership in trade unions would facilitate this,” the committee noted.

Meanwhile, some deputies said that this issue should not be included in the law, and that the Government should issue regulations to deal with the issue depending on the circumstances of each case.

Some others recommended careful consideration before reaching a final decision. They explained that negotiations could pose difficulties because of barriers in language and culture.

Under the current regulation, both Vietnamese and foreign employees are under the protection of trade unions when they feel their rights have been violated, they said.

Truong Thi Mai, Chairwoman of the NA’s Committee for Social Affairs, commented, “Under the draft law, the regulation which requires foreign employees to have a work permit of more than a year in order to join a trade union may not be as fair as the current regulation, in which an employee can sign a one-year contract, and then apply for an extension."

At the closing of the discussion session, the NA’s Standing Committee called for more reports on the foreign labourer situation in Vietnam, taking into account the experience of other countries, before making a decision on the matter.

Statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed that Vietnam has seen an increase in the number of foreign labourers in recent years. The figure has gone up from nearly 53,000 in 2008, to over 55,000 in 2009. In 2010 it was nearly 57,000.

By the middle of 2011, over 74,000 foreign people were working in Vietnam.

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