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With CPTPP, Vietnam’s trade union system needs reform
The Saigon Times Daily
Wednesday,  Nov 7, 2018,13:00 (GMT+7)

With CPTPP, Vietnam’s trade union system needs reform

The Saigon Times Daily

Workers from Tan Tao Industrial Park select vegetables at a roadside stall after work – PHOTO: THANH HOA

HCMC – Vietnam is about to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Since this high-standard free trade agreement allows workers to set up their own unions, the nation’s current trade union system will have to reform itself if it is to retain its appeal to workers, heard a session of the National Assembly on Monday.

The trade union system will face major, unprecedented challenges because of the establishment of other organizations representing employees, said Deputy Ngo Duy Hieu of Hanoi, who is also vice president of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

Hieu said new workers’ organizations would be tasked with guaranteeing the legitimate rights and interests of members.

The Vietnamese trade unions will have to compete with new unions set up by workers, which also operate on behalf of employees in terms of finding new Party members, establishing grassroots agencies and arranging financial resources.

He projected that the adoption of labor regulations aligned with the requirements of the trade pact would be difficult.

These issues will be addressed with dialogue; collective bargaining, with the negotiation of wages and other conditions of employment by an organized body of employees; and the leadership and organization of strikes.

Deputy Bui Sy Loi from the northern province of Thanh Hoa noted that the Government should seek ways to minimize child labor to fulfill its commitments, as stipulated in the CPTPP.

The majority of the nation’s labor force is from the agricultural sector, whereas workers in the informal sector make up a high proportion of children, according to Loi.

He stated that the revision of the Labor Code and the Trade Union Law should be made simultaneously because they deal with the labor relations of organizations representing workers and with collective bargaining.

He also urged the Government to consider the ratification of three important conventions as proposed by the International Labor Organization. These are the freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, collective bargaining and the abolition of forced labor.

The CPTPP is a free trade agreement struck among Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the trade pact will increase Vietnam’s gross domestic product and exports by 1.32% and 4.04%, respectively, by 2035. The total import revenue will rise by 3.8%, lower than the export growth rate. As such, the overall impact on the trade balance will be favorable.

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