Wildcat strikes in Vietnam, the Labour Code and the union role
In 2008, there have been more than 330 wildcat strikes taking place in Vietnam. In general the main demand is a 40% pay rise. This wildcat strike phenomenon has been taking place since the amended labour code took effect on 1 July 2007. Under the current law, labourers are not allowed to go on strike in conflicts regarding rights, but must bring the conflict to court. They can go on strike if conflicts regarding interests (such as wages) are not solved by negotiations. Labourers must compensate their employers if the court finds that their strikes were illegal. Since then, the number of wildcat strikes has increased.
Currently in Vietnam there are 15 Industrial Parks, 7 Industrial Zones and 3 Export Processing Zones. They are spread in three regions, North, Central and South regions. Regarding the increasing number of wildcat strikes taking place, there was a meeting between Hanoi officials and 65 CEOs of Japanese companies in North Thang Long. Japanese representatives said that some elements had roused up spread-out strikes in the industrial zone and they asked the government to quell these illegal strikes and asked workers who illegally went on strike to pay compensation.
Meanwhile Nguyen Thi Hoa, Chairwoman of the Trade Union of Hanoi Industrial and Export Processing Zones, described the general situation in North Thang Long industrial zone in North Region:
- 34 of 65 companies have trade unions
- 11 of 65 companies have payrolls
- 45 of 65 companies have labour regulations
This situation, according to Hoa, has created a gap that prevent a dialogue between workers and employers.
In Vietnam currently, workers have no rights to form independent unions. Meanwhile the official national labour union sees its role as mediating between companies and workers rather than taking sides.