The fear of IZ workers

Published: 15/11/2009 05:00



LookAtVietnam – Workers in industrial zones accept long overtime hours because they fear losing their jobs or having their salary cut.

Nguyen Thi Dan from the HCM City Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

Workers in industrial zones accept long overtime hours because they fear losing their jobs or having their salary cut.

Part III: Women workers and their sad love affairs

Part I: Hard hours and low pay – a worker’s long day in IZ

Part II: ‘As dull as our daily gruel’

VietNamNet talked with Nguyen Thi Dan from the HCM City Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and Do Doan Kim from the Industrial Zone (IZ) Management Board of Dong Nai province about the life of IZ workers.

VietNamNet: Most companies in industrial zones, especially footwear, cooking and seafood processing and garment firms, ask workers to work overtime every day. What do you think about this fact?

Nguyen Thi Dan: Under the Labour Code, companies are not allowed to ask workers to work overtime over 200 hours per year and 300 hours per year for some areas like seafood processing, footwear and garment.

Companies that ask their employees to work overtime 80-100 hours per month like VietNamNet reported have violated the law.

Do Doan Kim: Most of companies, particularly footwear and garment firms, in Dong Nai’s industrial zone break the rules on overtime working. However, almost workers want to earn extra income. They think that working overtime can help them get a free dinner while they get some more money. If they leave their factories early, they don’t know what to do in their hired rooms.

Many workers don’t want to work overtime but they have to because they are afraid of losing their jobs, their salary being deducted, etc. What do you think?

Kim: This is the fact. But when labour inspectors come, employers often explain that they have reached agreements with their workers, not forcing workers to do overtime.

Anyways, employers are wrong if the overtime hours of their workers exceed the regulations.

Dan: Workers are unable to protect themselves because they don’t have knowledge about laws. Sometimes they are afraid to tell the truth because they fear losing job.

The most important thing is workers dare to speak the truth and report violations of their employers. They should learn about the current law on labour.

Is there any measure to punish companies that intentionally break the labour law, arguing that they have reached agreements with workers?

Kim: We often inspect enterprises but when we asked workers, they often kept silent while the trade unions don’t have timely assistance.

Dan: Workers need to bravely report the situation. We are willing to combine with trade unions at all levels and the management boards of IZs to protect workers’ interests. Labour inspectors will inspect and fine violators.

Where do workers report violations of their employers?

Kim: If they face any difficulty, they can see the management board of IZs, grassroots trade unions or the local Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs to ask for assistance.

If we detect violations, we will deal with them quickly. If workers dare to denounce the wrongdoings of employers, competent agencies will investigate.

Dan: Trade unions are the representative for workers. The grassroots trade unions should tell new workers about the labour law. Competent agencies are ready to help workers.

There is a fact that many companies fire female workers of over 35 years old. What do you comment about it?

Kim: The life of female workers of over 35 years old is very hard. Many of them entered IZs at the age of 18. When they are 35 and their health starts reducing, employers seek to dodge the rules to not sign labour contracts with them.

Dan: Garment and footwear enterprises don’t recruit workers of over 35 years old because they were squeezed out when they were 18-20. Their youth were days of working overtime from the early morning until night at enterprises.

They don’t have time for love and marriage so part of female workers at the age of 35-40 have to live alone.

In you advice, what female workers at this age have to do to protect their interest?

Kim: Enterprises said that workers have to work overtime to earn high income. I questioned why you don’t raise salary but offer them low salary and ask them to work overtime? The management boards of industrial zones will take measures to prevent employers from dodging the labour law and fire elderly workers.

Dan: Government agencies can’t follow enterprises 24/24. Whenever we leave their factories, they will do what they want. Only workers and the grassroots trade unions know about their violations and they need to raise their voice immediately so labour inspectors can help them.

Thai Phuong

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