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The Right of Association
Workers are not free to join or form unions of their choosing. Trade unions are controlled by the Party and have only nominal independence. All unions must be approved by and must affiliate with the party-controlled Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL). The VGCL claimed that it represented 95 percent of public sector workers and 90 percent of workers in state-owned enterprises. However, the overall level of unionization of the workforce was 10 percent. Approximately 500,000 union members worked in the private sector, including enterprises with foreign investment. The vast majority of the work force lived in rural areas, engaged in small-scale farming, and was not unionized.
The VGCL asserted that authorities did not prosecute some violations of the Labor Law. Union leaders influenced key decisions, such as the amendment of labor legislation, development of social safety nets, and the setting of health, safety, and minimum wage standards.
While the Labor Law states that all enterprise-level and professional trade unions are affiliated with the VGCL, in practice hundreds of unaffiliated "labor associations" were organized at many individual enterprises and in occupations such as those of taxi, motorcycle and cyclo drivers, cooks, and market porters. The ILO and the UNDP cooperated on a large multiyear technical assistance program to strengthen labor law implementation.
The Labor Law prohibits anti-union discrimination on the part of employers against employees who seek to organize.
Individual unions legally are not free to affiliate with, join, or participate in, international labor bodies, and they did not do so in practice. However, the VGCL had relations with 95 labor organizations in 70 countries.
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