Support crucial for workers heading into New Year

December 22, 2022 | 18:00
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Hundreds of enterprises have had to cease output over the months, putting hundreds of thousands of workers out of work or reducing working hours. Phan Van Anh, vice president of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, told VIR’s Nguyen Thu about the reasons and efforts to support labourers heading into Lunar New Year.

Contrary to optimistic projections at the start of the year, the labour market is struggling at this time. What is the situation and what are your predictions for next year?

Support crucial for workers heading into New Year
Phan Van Anh, vice president of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour

In general, the post-pandemic socioeconomic recovery has been continuing well in 2022. As the year comes to a close, political insecurity in many global regions, inflation pressure, and wildly shifting raw material costs have resulted in a drop in many orders from outside, leaving 500,000 people unemployed and 42,000 people out of work.

Employees are facing more risks of job loss, reduced working hours, and fewer new job opportunities. Areas subject to many risks include food processing, healthcare, and tourism. The most affected areas are enterprises in industrial parks and export processing zones, especially workers at foreign-invested enterprises.

It is projected that in the coming time, enterprises’ production and business situation will continue to face difficulties, and orders will continue to be cut, possibly into the second quarter of 2023. There will continue to be issues in understaffing or job losses, and seriously affect the incomes and livelihoods of many. It is expected that from now until the early months of 2023, there will be well over 650 enterprises continuing to reduce the working hours of over 271,000 employees, while nearly 90 enterprises plan to further reduce working hours of around 15,800 employees.

The cut-off workers are concentrated in the wood, textile, and footwear sectors as businesses lacked overseas orders, faced rising material prices, and decreased consumer demand from the important market, and unskilled workers without technical qualification will be the most vulnerable group.

How does the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) fulfill its role in protecting workers’ rights?

We have held many meetings to assess and evaluate the situation of businesses that have suffered from reduced orders, seeking the causes and proposing solutions.

In addition, we also issued many documents directing provinces, cities, and unions to grasp the situation when businesses have to cut orders and discuss remedial measures.

In case workers are cut off from their jobs, they must ensure compliance with the law on workers’ rights. It is necessary to create favourable conditions for employees, such as having solutions for workers to take rotational leave so that when there is an order, they can return to work as normal.

How is the VGCL preparing for the Lunar New Year break for social beneficiaries?

We have issued a plan to take care of Lunar New Year for employees, which includes 10 distinct activities.

As a result of the pandemic, businesses and employees face many difficulties. Therefore, through the “Tet Gathering – Spring Festival” programme for 2023, the VGCL has offered a support package of over VND500 billion ($21.2 million) for over one million union members and disadvantaged workers across the country

Trade unions at all levels will execute programmes to assist poor workers in returning to their home villages for the festive break, as well as hold Lunar New Year activities for those who are unable to do so. We will organise festive marketplaces supplying vital seasonal commodities at discounted prices nationwide, particularly in mountainous and isolated locations.

Aside from mobilising resources to assist workers, the VGCL has requested trade unions at all levels to strengthen engagement with workers and care for the material and spiritual wellbeing of trade union members and workers during Lunar New Year, the most important traditional holiday of the year.

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