From 26 March 2015 up to now, nearly 90,000 workers of Pou Yuen Company in Vietnam have struck asking for their social insurance benefits as defined in the revised Social Insurance Law passed by the National Assembly of Vietnam on 25 November 2014, which will go into effect on 1 January 2016.
The revised Social Insurance Law does not allow the workers to receive their social insurance benefits in a lump sum upon completion of their contracts at their places of work, they would have to wait until their retirement (at 60 in the case of men and 55 in the case of women) to receive them.
Based on the realistic situation as has happened in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the last seventy years,
Viet Labor would like to issue the following statement:
1 – We sympathize with and support the struggle of the Pou Yuen workers in their legitimate defense of their benefits.
Ever since, the Communist Party and Government of Vietnam hold in contempt the population and the workers. All policies and legislation relating to the life and work of the workers have been made up arbitrarily, without input from the workers themselves.
All these policies and legislation were promulgated for the sole purpose of protecting the regime and protecting the privileges of the powers that be.
The Vietnamese General Confederation of Labor has been irresponsible in protecting the rights and benefits of the working class, being as it is an instrument of the Communist Party and Government and run by them.
2- The new Social Insurance Law was passed against the background of the Social Security Fund being threatened with bankruptcy in the very near future owing to poor management, corruption and bad practices.
The danger of bankruptcy has been warned against more than three years ago:
– According to the newspaper “Tia sáng” (“Morning Ray”) of 3 August 2012, “Vietnam’s Retirement Fund will start to be in the red from 2020 on and will be totally gone, unable to pay out by 2029
This forecast was announced at a seminar on reassessing the financial capabilities of Vietnam’s Retirement Fund organized by the Ministry of Labor, Wounded Veterans and Social Affairs in conjunction with the International Labor Organization (ILO) on 2 Agust 2012”
– Vietnamnet on 9 May 2014 warned that “in another 6 years, the Social Insurance Fund will start to be in the red. In another 20 years, it will be exhausted…”
– The newspaper Người Lao Động (“The Laborer”) of 26 May 2014 wrote: “Today (26 May) the draft Social Insurance Bill which officially goes to the National Assembly for debate and discussion at a time when this fund is in danger of bankruptcy because of insufficient receipts as compared to expenditures…”
The promulgation of the revised Social Insurance Law is thus a sleight-of-hand meant to steal from the property of the workers.
3- The revised Social Insurance Law copies after similar bills found in Western and European democracies. But there is a big difference between socialist Vietnam and the Western democracies. The Social Insurance funds in the Western democracies are run strictly under the close supervision of the people and of the press whereas in Vietnam, under its totalitarian regime, the common people is held in contempt and the press meant only to protect the regime, with the various mass organizations being nothing more than instruments of the Communist Party. Corruption in such a system is a given, and the people and the workers are no more than slaves in such a regime.
4- There have been at least over 5,000 cat strikes in Vietnam all of which originated from disputes or contradictions resulting from conflicts between the company owners and the workers.
This is the first time that the workers in Vietnam strike in protest against a national legislation which goes against the interest of the laborers. The workers’ understanding has been raised, which is a good sign that the authorities can no longer ignore the common people.
5- On 1 April 2015, in the face of the strength of the Pou Yuen strike, the Prime Minister of Vietnam was forced to suggest that the National Assembly amend Article 60 of the revised Social Insurance Law so as to allow the workers to make their choice as to how to touch their benefits.
This is a great victory for the workers of Pou Yuen Company, it is also an example, a lesson for the workers throughout the nation: To protect one’s rights and benefits, we must courageously struggle.
6- The Prime Minister’s declaration so far is only a promise, it has yet to become reality. This is a pattern that has been repeated many times, with him promising but never materializing.
The workers of Pou Yuen Company as well as other workers need to be extremely vigilant and closely monitor the Prime Minister’s promise. Should he go back on his promise, they should start a general strike throughout the nation. A common struggle to protect their own rights and benefits.
7- The working class of Vietnam must have the right to establish their independent unions, with leaders elected from their ranks and not subservient to any other organizations.
Viet Labor demands that it be allowed to operate in the open and legally in Vietnam.
8- Viet Labor calls on all the other mass organizations and civil societies of Vietnam to strongly lend their support to the struggle of the Vietnamese working class, not simply because of the working class’s rights and benefits but also on behalf of the rights and benefits of the whole Vietnamese nation.