Vietnam to Allow Free Labor Unions?

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Vietnam has agreed to wide ranging labour reforms, including allowing the formation of free and independent trade unions with the right to strike, under the terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreed last month.

The complete text of the TPP, released this week, outlines the full extent of the concessions made by Vietnam in the face of American demands.

The terms are in a separate bilateral agreement between Washington and Hanoi – one of the clauses in a mammoth trade pact encompassing twelve countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.

“Without reservation, I think this is the best opportunity we’ve had in years to encourage deep institutional reform in Vietnam that will advance human rights, and it will only happen if TPP is approved,” said Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state in an interview with the New York Times.

Vietnam has committed to allow workers the right to strike, not just over wages and hours, but over working conditions and other grievances as well.

The US trade representative, Michael Froman, greets the Vietnamese minister of industry and trade, Vu Huy Hoang. Picture courtesy of European Press photo agnecy.

“Vietnam shall ensure that the procedures and mechanisms for registering grassroots labour unions are consistent with the labour rights as stated in the ILO Declaration, including with respect to transparency, the time periods for processing and membership requirements, and without prior authorisation or discretion,” states the agreement.

It also commits Vietnam to pass laws to allow the organisation of workers across different companies and sectors in accordance with the ILO (International Labour Organisation).

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