Declaration of Vietnam Civil Society Organizations regarding the founding of Vietnam Independent Trade Union

Statement 8 6

Defend the Defenders | June 11, 2014

Translated by [rollinglinks]Nguyen Khoa Thai Anh[/rollinglinks]

Independent trade unions must be established by the workers themselves, truly look out for the interest of the workers, centered on the workers and protect the essential rights of every worker in each plant and industry.

Independent trade unions cannot exist in name only like The Vietnam Confederation of Labor of (TLDLDVN) or the various levels of trade unions belonging to the state, where they are known only as a intermediaries, yet enjoying 2% of the total wage fund of all businesses, but have not agreed to any legitimate requests for demonstration of the nearly 1,000 workers who carry out spontaneous strikes annually.

Legally, any strike must also be approved by the TLDLDVN. But reality manifests too bitter a truth that the TLDLDVN has never led, organized, or supported any of the strikes. All the strikes in Vietnam are spontaneous but are considered illegal. Even strikes to protest the invasion of China have lost control as had happened in the past month. During the protests by the workers in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ha Tinh, the TLDLDVN organizations, supposedly bearing the representation of the workers, was completely useless, allowing the bad element to usurp the situation, causing violent riots to tarnish the image of workers in Vietnam in particular and Vietnam in general. If there is an independent union formed by the workers, then surely such shameful incidents would not have happened.

The right to speak out

The right to speak out to defend their interests before the owners and before all the unreasonable policies of the State with regard to the hiring and the use of the employees are too urgent for most of the 5 million workers Vietnam!

The right to self-establish an independent trade union for workers becomes more critical in the context of Vietnam’s economy, which has been pushed into recession and crisis mode by the various powerful interest groups for nearly 7 years. Not only did the average income of the workers not improve, it was reduced by 25-30% while the consumer price index has risen exponentially at least 2 to 3 times since 2011. In many factories and companies, workers must work at least 10 hours per day and six days per week, yet their incomes are not enough to live by. The tragic situation continues to worsen despite Vietnam had the opportunity to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2007, but the accession has only provided an opportunity to create the great chasm of disparity between the 5% of the highest income earners and the poorest 5%, which has multiplied 60-70 times.

The policy of the State and enterprises operating in Vietnam have not demonstrated their good will, sincerity and ability to raise living standards and workers’ rights after joining the WTO, thus there is no guarantee that the state will make life less miserable and unbearable for workers once Vietnam would be accepted in the mechanisms involved in Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) in the near future.

Vietnam Must Establish Independent Trade Unions

The countries that have the greatest influence in the TPP are the United States and Japan. They have traditionally pursued the interest in social welfare and labor rights policies of their own which force Vietnam to face an incontrovertible conditions: if it wants to join TPP, Vietnam has to accept the formation of Independent trade unions.

The labor unions who have the most impact in the United States are the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Communications Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They have voiced strong opposition to Vietnam joining the TPP agreement, if Vietnam does not satisfy the conditions to form independent unions, and implement important reforms of labor law and civil liberties, unconditionally free a number of independent labor union activists such as Do Thi Minh Hanh, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Doan Huy Chuong … who have been arrested and sentenced to prison.

We, the independent civil society organizations in Vietnam, unanimously declare our full support for:

1. The independent trade unions, established, led and operated by the citizens of Vietnam.

2. Introduction of the participants and urged workers to join membership.

3. Campaign for the support and protection of the national and international organizations.

Representatives of civil society organizations in Vietnam have collectively sign:

  1. Bach Dang Giang Foundation: Pham Ba Hai, MA.
  2. Cao Dai: Mr. Hua Phi, Ms. Bach Phung
  3. Human Rights Movement: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que
  4. The Vietnam path: Mr. Hoang Van Dung
  5. Catholics Organization: Fr. Dinh Huu Thoai
  6. Civil Society Forum: Dr. Nguyen Quang A
  7. Association of the Oppressed Petitioners: Mr. Nguyen Xuan Ngu
  8. Association of former Political and Religious prisoners: Engineer Truong Minh Nguyet,. Nguyen Bac Truyen, Esq.
  9. Brotherhood for Democracy: Ls. Nguyen Van Dai, Journalist Truong Minh Duc
  10. The Gourd and Squash Mutual Association: Mr. Nguyen Le Hung
  11. Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience: Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Fr. Phan Van Loi
  12. Vietnamese Women for Human Rights: Ms. Duong Thi Tan, Ms. Huynh Thuc Vy
  13. Block 8406: Father Phan Van Loi, Monk Minh Triet
  14. Hoa Hao Buddhists: Mr. Le Quang Lien, Mr. Le Minh Triet
  15. The Oppressed Petitioners Solidarity Movement: Ms. Tran Ngoc Anh
  16. PGVNTN Sangha: Venerable Thich Khong Tanh
  17. Evangelical Protestant: Reverend Nguyen Hoang Hoa, Nguyen Manh Hung