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The Vietnam News

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Vietnam labour survey takes foreign firms to task

HANOI - A survey of foreign-invested firms operating in Vietnam has shown many fail to abide by labour regulations, do not have insurance policies for employees and treat women rudely, official media reported.

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) in a report obtained by Reuters on Friday said such problems at foreign-invested firms had led to a rise in strikes.
The foreign-invested sector accounted for 50 to 55 percent of all worker strikes last year, compared with 35 to 40 percent in 1997, it said. The number of strikes was not given.

The foreign-invested sector in communist-ruled Vietnam generally refers to companies licensed to do business such as joint ventures, to 100-percent owned foreign entities and to branch offices of banks and law firms.
A survey of 100 foreign-invested businesses indicated more than 90 did not strictly observe recruitment procedures, VNA said.

A number of businesses also forced employees to work extra shifts without overtime payments and set tasks that could not be met, said the survey, conducted by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
Employees in most such businesses had not yet obtained their insurance policies and some female workers were treated rudely, it added without giving details.

A labour ministry official said he could not immediately give details of the survey.
More than 230,000 people worked at 1,500 foreign-invested businesses, the report said.
Some foreign companies have laid off workers and scaled back operations in Vietnam because of the region's economic crisis and the country's own obstacles such as widespread bureaucracy.
VNA said trade unions had yet to fulfill their role of protecting legitimate interests of workers in foreign-invested firms. Late last year Vietnam's main trade union said it aimed for a presence in all foreign firms in the country.

Another reason for labour strikes were occasional violations of working rules by Vietnamese employees, VNA said.

Reuters - February 19, 1999.